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BUSINESS HEADLINES THIS PAST WEEK...
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PHNO REMINDER: THE PHILIPPINES' HOSTING OF APEC 2015 IN NOVEMBER


SEPTEMBER 14 -After almost two decades, the Philippines hosts and chairs Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). We hosted APEC meetings for the first time in 1996. The most high-profile event, the APEC Leaders’ Meeting, was held in Subic Bay, Zambales in November of that year. In 2015, the leaders, senior officials, top businessmen, and industry experts of and from the group’s 21 member-economies will once again come together in the Philippines. How did we  formulate the APEC 2015 theme? Our stakeholders and other significant actors adopted, utilized a set of guiding principles in crafting the theme for APEC 2015. Accordingly, the theme should possess inclusive, forward-looking qualities such as balance, continuity, relevance, resonance, and sustainability. It shall underline and advance both domestic and regional goals through building on past and ongoing initiatives while addressing present challenges and needs that relate to our common concerns and interests. Moreover, the APEC 2015 theme should be realized by achieving medium term to the long-term results. Activities were also conducted to gather information, facilitate the exchange of opinions, engender support, and formulate policy initiatives & recommendations. Specifically, consultations were held involving government agencies, private sector and APEC Senior Officials to assess the level of comfort on the priorities and gather support for these priorities. Further, research studies were done in collaboration with the academe & think tanks to substantiate identified priorities and produce policy recommendations. Workshops were also organized with host agencies, including private sector, for the purpose of defining the elements of various high level meetings in 2015. READ MORE...

ALSO the speech: Aquino tells Finance Ministers "The Only Real Growth is Inclusive Growth"
[“The Cebu Action Plan will also help equip us to respond to some of the gravest threats to our economies in the form of natural disasters, particularly those caused by the new normal of climate change,” President Aquino added.]


SEPTEMBER 9 -SPEECH. President Benigno S. Aquino III delivers his speech during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Finance Ministers’ Meeting and Related Meetings at the Rosal Ballroom of the Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu on Thursday, September 10, 2015. Photo by Lauro Montellano, Jr. / Malacañang Photo Bureau Philippine President Benigno Aquino III expressed support for a groundbreaking action plan being developed by APEC Finance Ministers to mitigate unfolding market challenges and drive inclusive, secure growth across the Asia-Pacific, coming in remarks opening their meeting in Cebu to round out the details.
APEC Finance Ministers are convened here through Friday to assess the economic and financial outlook and launch the Cebu Action Plan—a package of new joint initiatives to be taken forward by APEC members to combat inequality and ensure next generation growth within the region’s transitioning economies through greater integration and connectivity. Philippine Secretary of Finance Cesar V. Purisima is chairing the proceedings. “The only real growth is inclusive growth,” explained President Aquino, pointing to the Philippines’ 6.2 per cent GDP rise over the last four years, a forty year high, but also the need among Asia-Pacific economies to build prosperity that is widely felt by people and businesses. “Regardless of the seeming magnitude of the challenge, progress can be achieved sooner rather than later—especially if we work with solidarity, coherence and integrity.”  “My optimism is shaped by my experience of how a group with a unified sense of purpose can accelerate our shared journey towards prosperity,” President Aquino continued. “My positivity is reinforced by the Cebu Action Plan,” which, he noted, APEC Finance Ministers are now working towards and “ticks all the right boxes.”  READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino trumpets growth story anew, promises to do more


SEPTEMBER 12 -‘GROWTH ENGINES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY’ – President Aquino (center) shakes hands with Donald Campbell (right), co-chairperson of the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), after his speech before the 23rd PECC General Meeting yesterday at the Luzon Ballroom of Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Complex in Pasay City. Also on hand to greet the President were (from left) PECC co-chair Jusuf Wanandi, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo and PECC Philippine chair Ambassador Antonio Basilio. (Richard V. Vinas)
In the final months of his office, President Aquino has pledged to accelerate the momentum of the country’s economic resurgence as well as further upgrade the transport infrastructure in a bid to ease the traffic jams gripping Metro Manila. Speaking at the 23rd Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) general meeting in Pasay City, the President highlighted the country’s remarkable growth story and later shared the government’s development plans, including major infrastructure projects underway, to sustain such growth. “Everyone, across the entire spectrum of society, is fully and completely engaged in growth — and we want to accelerate this momentum. Government is exerting the maximum effort to further engender an atmosphere conducive to business, down to our communities,” the President said. Faced with the public uproar over monstrous traffic of Guinness proportion, the President assured that an inter-agency task force is “hard at work to alleviate traffic along Metro Manila’s thoroughfares,” referring to the task force headed by Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras who is assigned to coordinate government action in easing traffic congestion along the 23 kilometer stretch of EDSA. READ MORE...

ALSO Coloma maintains: DTI Chief’s surprised resignation won’t affect APEC preps; all hands on deck at Palace


SEPTEMBER 13 -President Benigno S. Aquino III talks with DTI Secretary Gregory Domingo during the 23rd Pacific Economic Cooperation Council General Meeting (PECC XXIII)Pphoto by Richard V. Viñas)
The resignation of Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo will not derail the country’s hosting of this year’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, a Palace official assured on Sunday. Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. maintained that all hands are on deck to ensure the successful conduct of the APEC meetings, that will culminate in the leaders’ summit this November. “Secretaries (Cesar) Purisima, Domingo, (Arsenio) Balisacan and all members of the Cabinet’s economic cluster are working as a unified and cohesive team together with Executive Secretary (Paquito) Ochoa and the national organizing committee to make our APEC hosting a big success,” Coloma said in a text message to reporters. Last Saturday, Domingo tendered his resignation letter to President Aquino in the middle of the APEC meetings hosted by the country. Coloma said Domingo’s resignation remains under consideration and that Ochoa was still waiting for the President’s action on the matter. The Palace officials however are still unaware about the reason behind the resignation of Domingo from the Aquino Cabinet. There is also still no official word about the replacement of Doming at the trade department. READ MORE...

ALSO: Philippines soars to great heights in budget transparency; Abad elated with survey


SEPTEMBER 14 -“We’re elated that the International Budget Partnership has recognized the tremendous improvement in budgetary transparency and participation under the Aquino administration,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said in a statement. Philstar.com/AJ Bolando/File
The Philippines has been cited for open and transparent budget management by the 2015 Open Budget Survey. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said the country received the highest score for budget transparency in Southeast Asia, the second highest in Asia and 21st in the world. The Philippines’ score went up to 64 (out of 100), up from 48 in 2012, surpassing the government’s own target of 60 and well above the average score of 48 among the countries surveyed. “We’re elated that the International Budget Partnership has recognized the tremendous improvement in budgetary transparency and participation under the Aquino administration,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said in a statement. READ MORE...

ALSO: Moody’s reduces PH growth forecast to 5.7%


SEPTEMBER 8 -Global debt watcher Moody’s Investors Service on Tuesday cut by 1 percentage point its 2015 growth forecast for the Philippines to 5.7 percent from the previous estimate of 6.7 percent, on sluggish exports, anemic government spending and threat of the El Niño dry spell.
Moody’s also slashed its 2016 growth forecast to 6 percent from the earlier assumption of 6.5 percent. “In the Philippines, slowing export growth and fiscal underspending weighed on output in the first half of the year. On the supply side, the El Niño-related dry spell hurt agricultural production, contributing to our lower GDP growth forecast of 5.7 percent for 2015,” Moody’s said in a report. Lower fiscal spending was one of the reasons for the slower-than-expected first-quarter growth of 5 percent. The gross domestic product grew by 5.6 percent in the second quarter, bringing the first-half average to 5.3 percent, below the government’s target of 7 percent to 8 percent for 2015. The economy grew 6.1 percent in 2014, slower than 7.2-percent expansion registered in 2013. Economists blamed the government’s lower fiscal spending as the culprit for the sluggish 2014 performance. Moody’s said despite the reduced growth forecast, the Philippines was expected to outperform other economies in the region, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, whose growth forecasts this year and next were also lowered. Growth forecast for Indonesia in 2015 was reduced to 4.7 percent from 5 percent; Malaysia, retained at 4.8 percent ; Singapore, cut to 1.7 percent from 3 percent; and Thailand, revised to 2.5 percent from 3 percent. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

The Philippines’ hosting of APEC 2015 [Basahin sa Filipino


CLICK THIS LOGO TO GO TO THE APEC PHILIPPINES 2015 WEBSITE.

CEBU, SEPTEMBER 14, 2015 (APEC PHL 2015 WEBSITE)  After almost two decades, the Philippines hosts and chairs the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). We hosted APEC meetings for the first time in 1996.

The most high-profile event, the APEC Leaders’ Meeting, was held in Subic Bay, Zambales in November of that year.

In 2015, the leaders, senior officials, top businessmen, and industry experts of and from the group’s 21 member-economies will once again come together in the Philippines.

How did the Philippines formulate the APEC 2015 theme?

Stakeholders and other significant actors adopted and utilized a set of guiding principles in crafting the theme for APEC 2015. Accordingly, the theme should possess inclusive, forward-looking qualities such as balance, continuity, relevance, resonance, and sustainability.

It shall underline and advance both domestic and regional goals through building on past and ongoing initiatives while addressing present challenges and needs that relate to common concerns and interests.

Moreover, the APEC 2015 theme should be realized by achieving medium term to long-term results.

Activities were also conducted to gather information, facilitate the exchange of opinions, engender support, and formulate policy initiatives and recommendations.

Specifically, consultations were held involving government agencies, private sector and APEC Senior Officials to assess the level of comfort on the priorities and gather support for these priorities.

Further, research studies were done in collaboration with the academe and think tanks to substantiate identified priorities and produce policy recommendations.

Workshops were also organized with host agencies, including private sector, for the purpose of defining the elements of various high level meetings in 2015.

READ MORE...

What is the theme of APEC 2015?

Under the Philippines’ leadership, the overall subject of APEC 2015 is the promotion and advancement of inclusive growth in the Asia-Pacific region, hence the APEC 2015 theme, “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World.”

Accordingly, inclusive growth can be defined, described, and analyzed in three stages –domestic/national, regional, and macro levels.

At the domestic/national level, the inclusive growth strategy of the Philippines is based on creating employment opportunities and jobs, involving and integrating the majority of the population in the economic and social mainstream, and alleviating poverty through good governance and domestic reform.

At the regional level, the inclusive growth strategy of the APEC region is focused on expanding access to opportunities and enabling people to realize their full potential which will result in more productive employment opportunities, dynamic economic growth, and greater well-being.

At the macro level, the inclusive growth trajectory of the APEC region is centered on bridging the gap between developing and developed APEC economies for the purpose of maximizing the benefits of a freer and more open trade and investment regime for each and every member economy.

What are the APEC 2015 priorities of the Philippines as host Economy?

In APEC 2015, the Philippines as Host Economy shall seek to mainstream and pursue its priorities into the agenda and economic policy thrusts of the member economies in the Asia-Pacific region. Specifically, the priorities were identified as follows:

Investing in Human Capital Development;

Fostering Small and Medium Enterprises’ (SMEs) Participation in Regional and Global Markets;

Building Sustainable and Resilient Communities; and

Enhancing the Regional Economic Integration Agenda. 

What is the relevance of each priority to the Asia-Pacific region?

Each priority has substantial and unique significance to the member economies of the Asia-Pacific region. The priorities are then complemented with sub-priorities that would support their realization and serve as building blocks for the fulfillment of the overarching objective of APEC 2015 – inclusive growth.

The implications brought by these priorities may have varying degrees of importance yet otherwise prove to be inter-related and interwoven in nature.

INVESTING IN HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT

Human resources play a vital role in the attainment of the objectives of member economies, namely – enhanced job generation, improved productive employment opportunities, and greater economic growth.

As such, human capital development will be promoted through discussions on education, innovation, and capacity-building that would substantially affect the future of growth and stimulate the growth of the future. The identified sub-priorities are:

Promoting knowledge-based economies;

Promoting science & technology education and innovation in APEC;

Developing job skills needed by APEC business in the 21st century; and

Internationalization of education/cross-border education to develop APEC-wide skills. 

FOSTERING SMEs’ PARTICIPATION IN REGIONAL AND GLOBAL MARKETS

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are estimated to account for more than 97 percent of all businesses (99.6 percent in the Philippines) and employ over half of the workforce across APEC economies.1 Acknowledging the significant contribution of businesses to job creation and economic growth, increased emphasis will be placed on the goal of integrating and internationalization of SMEs including their participation in global value chains (GVCs). The sub-priorities are the following: {1 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, “Small and Medium Enterprises” http://www.apec.org/Groups/SOM-Steering-Committee-on-Economic-and-Technical-Cooperation/Working-Groups/Small-and-Medium-Enterprises.aspx  (accessed October 10, 2014)}

Removing barriers to SMEs, including entry to markets;

Promoting inclusive growth through sustainable and resilient SMEs; and

Advocating modernization and standard conformance among SMEs.

BUILDING SUSTAINABLE AND RESILIENT COMMUNITIES

The changing global environment, along with natural and man-made disasters, has brought tremendous Loss and Damage (L&D) and disruptions to the interlinked supply and demand sides of the Asia-Pacific trade. Moreover, disasters and disaster-related events negatively impact the image of member economies as stable, worthwhile investment destinations.

Strengthened efforts will thus be focused on the resilience and sustainability of APEC business and communities affected by energy and food security. Increased attention will also be given to the preservation of ocean ecosystems and marine resources due to their critical importance for the Blue Economy-oriented member economies. The sub-priorities are:

Creating and promoting risk reduction and management in APEC economies;

Building resilient infrastructure;

Fostering business continuity;

Building SMEs’ resilience to disaster;

Enhancing food security and the Blue Economy in the APEC region; and

Promoting coastal management and marine conservation.

ENHANCING THE REGIONAL ECONOMIC INTEGRATION AGENDA

Currently, there are an estimated 42 Regional Free Trade Agreements between and among APEC economies. Negotiations are also taking place on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)2 and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)3.

{2 TPP Members: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, Viet Nam} {3 RCEP Members: Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Viet Nam}

The long-term vision of the APEC is a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) that will establish a single FTA among all APEC economies.

As host of APEC 2015, the Philippines is expected to support and continuously work on the regional economic integration (REI) agenda with special focus on trade in services, which amounts to almost half of APEC economies’ GDP. The sub-priorities were identified as:

Strengthening regional economic integration through the Bogor Goals4;

Promoting connectivity through Trade in Services, which will focus on the people-to-people and institutional connectivity within the region;

Advancing financial markets aimed at creating stronger financial institutions within the region to better respond to prospective economic shocks; and

Strengthening global supply chain/global value chains in the APEC region.

Learn about the APEC 2015 logo.

Prepared by the Foreign Service Institute in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs Layout by Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office / APEC 2015 Strategic Communications Committee Copyright APEC 2015 Philippines

FOR INFO, EVENTS AND PHOTO UPDATES GO >> TO APEC PHL 2015 FACEBOOK


APEC WEBSITE PRESS RELEASE VIA EMAIL Cebu, Philippines, 10 Sep 2015  Issued by the APEC Secretariat

Aquino to Finance Ministers: 'The Only Real Growth is Inclusive Growth'


SPEECH. President Benigno S. Aquino III delivers his speech during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Finance Ministers’ Meeting and Related Meetings at the Rosal Ballroom of the Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu on Thursday, September 10, 2015. Photo by Lauro Montellano, Jr. / Malacañang Photo Bureau

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III expressed support for a groundbreaking action plan being developed by APEC Finance Ministers to mitigate unfolding market challenges and drive inclusive, secure growth across the Asia-Pacific, coming in remarks opening their meeting in Cebu to round out the details.

APEC Finance Ministers are convened here through Friday to assess the economic and financial outlook and launch the Cebu Action Plan—a package of new joint initiatives to be taken forward by APEC members to combat inequality and ensure next generation growth within the region’s transitioning economies through greater integration and connectivity. Philippine Secretary of Finance Cesar V. Purisima is chairing the proceedings.

“The only real growth is inclusive growth,” explained President Aquino, pointing to the Philippines’ 6.2 per cent GDP rise over the last four years, a forty year high, but also the need among Asia-Pacific economies to build prosperity that is widely felt by people and businesses. “Regardless of the seeming magnitude of the challenge, progress can be achieved sooner rather than later—especially if we work with solidarity, coherence and integrity.”

“My optimism is shaped by my experience of how a group with a unified sense of purpose can accelerate our shared journey towards prosperity,” President Aquino continued. “My positivity is reinforced by the Cebu Action Plan,” which, he noted, APEC Finance Ministers are now working towards and “ticks all the right boxes.”

READ MORE...

GDP among the 21 APEC member economies increased 3.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2015 compared to 2.2 per cent for world GDP, according to the APEC Policy Support Unit. It comes against the backdrop of new market challenges that include a continued slowdown in trade growth that has been an engine of Asia-Pacific economies over the last quarter century and exposed the need to take more aggressive steps to enable new and under-tapped sources of growth.

President Aquino said that the Cebu Action Plan is focused on improving financial integration among APEC members to spur cross-border investment, strengthening transparency to enhance market efficiency, and lifting micro, small and medium enterprises and productivity needed to drive job creation, wages and social mobility within and across APEC economies. Developing and financing infrastructure to ensure a foundation for continued growth is a further point of emphasis.

“The Cebu Action Plan will also help equip us to respond to some of the gravest threats to our economies in the form of natural disasters, particularly those caused by the new normal of climate change,” President Aquino added.

APEC economies experience more than 70 per cent of the world's natural disasters and suffered USD68 billion annually in related costs from 2003 to 2013—the year the Philippines and neighboring areas were struck by Typhoon Haiyan, or Yolanda as it is known in the archipelago. It occurred just three weeks after Cebu and nearby Bohol were hit by a major earthquake.

“Two months from now, I will be welcoming the Leaders of APEC to discuss clearer pathways for us to build more inclusive economies, towards building a better world,” President Aquino concluded. “The success of that meeting, however, is rooted in gatherings such as this, where the more technical aspects are forged into policies that public servants can carry out for the benefit of our countrymen.”

# # #

For more:

A new APEC report on advancing structural reform to drive consumption and ensure resilient, inclusive growth across Asia-Pacific economies is detailed here.

For further details, please contact:

David Hendrickson +65 9137 3886 at drh@apec.org Michael Chapnick +65 9647 4847 at mc@apec.org

More on APEC meetings, events, projects and publications can be found on www.apec.org. You can also follow APEC on Twitter and join us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

For more information, contact: media@apec.org


MANILA BULLETIN

Aquino trumpets growth story, promises to do more by Genalyn Kabiling September 12, 2015 Share0 Tweet4 Share0 Email1 Share38


‘GROWTH ENGINES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY’ – President Aquino (center) shakes hands with Donald Campbell (right), co-chairperson of the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), after his speech before the 23rd PECC General Meeting yesterday at the Luzon Ballroom of Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Complex in Pasay City. Also on hand to greet the President were (from left) PECC co-chair Jusuf Wanandi, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo and PECC Philippine chair Ambassador Antonio Basilio. (Richard V. Vinas)

In the final months of his office, President Aquino has pledged to accelerate the momentum of the country’s economic resurgence as well as further upgrade the transport infrastructure in a bid to ease the traffic jams gripping Metro Manila.

Speaking at the 23rd Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) general meeting in Pasay City, the President highlighted the country’s remarkable growth story and later shared the government’s development plans, including major infrastructure projects underway, to sustain such growth.

“Everyone, across the entire spectrum of society, is fully and completely engaged in growth — and we want to accelerate this momentum. Government is exerting the maximum effort to further engender an atmosphere conducive to business, down to our communities,” the President said.

Faced with the public uproar over monstrous traffic of Guinness proportion, the President assured that an inter-agency task force is “hard at work to alleviate traffic along Metro Manila’s thoroughfares,” referring to the task force headed by Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras who is assigned to coordinate government action in easing traffic congestion along the 23 kilometer stretch of EDSA.

READ MORE...

The President recently authorized the deployment of the Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) as the lead traffic enforcement agency on EDSA which has since fielded a contingency of 150 cops along the stretch that improved the situation slightly.

BIG TICKET PROJECTS

Aquino said “big-ticket projects” aimed at improving the country’s infrastructure network are also in the pipeline. Critical transport infrastructure like seaports, airports, bus terminals and light rail transport are also being upgraded, Aquino added.

“This will not only ensure that the Philippines becomes more competitive, but that the benefits of trade, investment, and growth are able to reach even the most far-flung communities of the Philippines,” he said.

The President noted that his administration has worked to improve the country’s state of infrastructure in the past five years. He said infrastructure budget has been increased from 1.8 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010 to 4 percent of GDP this year.

“We are determined to increase it to 5% of GDP by 2016. Might I emphasize that, through the years, our national infrastructure component has been receiving a higher percentage, of a much higher GDP,” he added.

Recently, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) board approved four projects aimed at improving infrastructure for sustaining long-term economic growth. These are the construction of the LRT Line 4 connecting EDSA Ortigas to Taytay City (P42.89 billion), LRT Line 6 in Cavite (P64.71 billion), a new passenger terminal in Clark International Airport (P15.35 billion), and Naga airport development project (P3.5 billion).

GOOD GOVERNANCE

In the same speech, the President took pride anew in the country’s transformation in terms of inclusive economic growth and good governance saying “this strategy and the success it has wrought in my country is proof positive of the simple fact that economic progress is inseparable from the progress of the people. Good governance works. Reform works,” he said.

Recogizing the Filipino people as most vital partners in growing the economy, Aquino said the government has poured massive investments to empower the people in becoming productive citizens, such as Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program and the K-to-12 basic education program.

From only 786,000 households covered by the CCT program in 2010, he said the project now benefits 4.4 million families or 22 million Filipinos.

“Earlier this year, we celebrated the high school graduation of children belonging to the first batch of beneficiaries of the expanded CCT Program: 333,673 Filipino boys and girls who are now more equipped to realize a brighter future for themselves and for their families,” he said.

DEMAND FOR INCLUSIVE GROWTH

He said the extension of our 10-year basic education cycle through K-to-12 program also seeks to improve the competitiveness of the Filipino youth and gain employment and livelihood in the future.

Aquino also mentioned the anti-corruption gains attained by the government, from holding the corrupt accountable, plugging leaks in budget system, to practicing fiscal prudence. “Transparency and accountability are no longer just ideals; they are realities in the Philippines,” he said.

Aquino also trumpeted the country’s economic achievements, such as higher competitiveness, positive credit rating actions, and influx of investments.

He said the Information Technology-Business Process Management (IT-BPM) sector now employs over a million individuals and earns nearly $19 billion in revenues. Local manufacturing also grew by 8 percent from 2010 to 2014, which is significantly higher than its 3 percent growth from 2001 to 2009.

With the people feeling the effects of good governance, Aquino is certain that Filipinos will refuse to accept anything less.

He said the people will continue to demand integrity, accountability, and sustainable, inclusive growth even after he steps down from office. “They will demand the continuity of the successes we have reaped,” he said.

But the task of building a stronger, more inclusive nation falls on the shoulders of the Filipinos, not on those in power, Aquino said.


MANILA BULLETIN

Domingo’s resignation won’t affect APEC preps – Palace by Genalyn Kabiling September 13, 2015 (updated) Share1 Tweet12 Share


President Benigno S. Aquino III talks with DTI Secretary Gregory Domingo during the 23rd Pacific Economic Cooperation Council General Meeting (PECC XXIII) with the theme: “Growth Engines for the 21st Century: Balanced, Inclusive, and Sustainable Growth” , held at the Luzon Ballroom of the Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila in CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City on September 11, 2015. PECC is a regional organization that has been in the forefront of understanding and examining the forces transforming the regional economy founded in 1980. (photo by Richard V. Viñas) (MB File Photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III talks with DTI Secretary Gregory Domingo during the 23rd Pacific Economic Cooperation Council General Meeting (PECC XXIII)Pphoto by Richard V. Viñas)

The resignation of Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo will not derail the country’s hosting of this year’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, a Palace official assured on Sunday.

Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. maintained that all hands are on deck to ensure the successful conduct of the APEC meetings, that will culminate in the leaders’ summit this November.

“Secretaries (Cesar) Purisima, Domingo, (Arsenio) Balisacan and all members of the Cabinet’s economic cluster are working as a unified and cohesive team together with Executive Secretary (Paquito) Ochoa and the national organizing committee to make our APEC hosting a big success,” Coloma said in a text message to reporters.

Last Saturday, Domingo tendered his resignation letter to President Aquino in the middle of the APEC meetings hosted by the country. Coloma said Domingo’s resignation remains under consideration and that Ochoa was still waiting for the President’s action on the matter.

The Palace officials however are still unaware about the reason behind the resignation of Domingo from the Aquino Cabinet. There is also still no official word about the replacement of Doming at the trade department.

READ MORE...

“I haven’t read the resignation letter yet so I will not speculate,” Deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte.

Valte also expressed confidence that Domingo’s departure will not adversely affect the government’s preparations in the APEC meetings.

“Secretary Domingo has a very capable team in DTI that handles trade-related matters in APEC. Also, the APEC NOC, which is in charge of the logistical, security and other related preparations for the hosting are well-equipped to handle developments like this,” she added.

Domingo was appointed trade secretary by President Aquino in 2010. He was part of the President’s cabinet economic cluster widely credited for implementing prudent fiscal management that led to strong economic growth and positive credit rating actions.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Office of President, Office of VP get more funds in 2016 By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 11, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


The budget for the Office of the President in 2016 will go up by P258.3 million, about 10 percent higher than this year’s P2.568 billion. STAR/File photo

MANILA, Philippines - The budget for the Office of the President (OP) in 2016 will go up by P258.3 million, about 10 percent higher than this year’s P2.568 billion, as the House of Representatives appropriations committee endorsed yesterday the P2.8-billion proposed budget.

Of the endorsed P2.826 billion, almost P2 billion will be for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), which include P500 million in confidential and intelligence funds, P771.7 million for salaries and P97 million for capital outlay.

The other big items in the MOOE include P313.2 million for travel, P298 million for repairs and maintenance, P162.8 million for supplies and materials, and P139.3 million for representation.

The approval by the House appropriations committee, chaired by Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, capped a two-hour hearing during which Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. answered questions on the use of funds sought for the office of President Aquino and other issues.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., for whom Ochoa worked as city administrator when the House leader was Quezon City mayor, briefly attended the hearing.

Asked about the travel budget and Aquino’s foreign trips, Ochoa said it is the President’s policy to minimize travel expenses and to be transparent about it.

READ MORE...

“That’s why he visited four countries in Europe – Belgium, France, Germany, and Spain – in one swing last year so he would not go back to Manila and return, which would have been more costly,” he said.

As for the use of the OP intelligence fund, he said the Commission on Audit and Department of Budget and Management (DBM) have jointly issued disbursement guidelines, which the Palace is following.

Ochoa said Malacañang is reviewing the use of a P30-billion risk management fund to pay for government guarantees that are being claimed by private companies, including the Maynilad Water Services and Manila Water.

For him, the claims would most likely go to arbitration as he also told lawmakers that he does not know where to source more than P24 billion that the Supreme Court told the government to pay the builder of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.

The House also approved yesterday President Aquino’s proposal to increase by about P8 million the 2016 budget for the Office of the Vice President (OVP), which will go up from P222.6 million this year to P230.5 million by 2016.

The approval came after a brief presentation made by Binay’s chief of staff Benjamin Martinez Jr.

But Sen. Nancy Binay criticized the DBM for giving a ‘zero’ budget allocation for legal assistance to distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). The DBM proposed only P30 million last year, when Binay asked for P100 million.

“Is this the way we treat the sacrifices of our OFWs? We give them zero budget when they remit billions to our economy?” Binay said in a statement.

She vowed to push for the legal fund during deliberations on the 2016 budget.

“It is clearer now that the government is insensitive to the plight of our OFWs,” Binay said as she cited the recent aborted move of the Bureau of Customs to open all balikbayan boxes.

Of the approved P230.5-million budget for the OVP, P47.5 million will be spent for salaries, P172.4 for MOOE and P2 million for capital outlay.

Out of his MOOE allocation, Binay can spend P23.9 million for travel, P14.2 million for consultants, P15 million for representation expenses and P88 million for “financial assistance/subsidy.”

Binay, who is seeking the presidency in the 2016 polls, is set to go against administration and Liberal Party (LP) bet Mar Roxas.

Some LP congressmen have described the Vice President’s financial assistance fund as pork barrel, which Binay could use for those who may seek his assistance, aside from using the travel budget for election campaign purposes.

In his presentation to the appropriations committee, Martinez said Binay would maximize the use of available resources in support of the priority areas outlined by the President in his State of the Nation Address (SONA), with particular regard to job creation, anti-corruption and social services, adding that “our working Vice President will continue to be an active and full-fledged partner of the President in national governance and leading the country to ensure a steady march towards lasting progress.”
Binay earlier left the Aquino administration, which he described as “palpak, manhid” (failure, insensitive).

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate sought more funds for the science and technology research programs of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to improve food production.

“Food security and agricultural productivity to help farmers must be among the government’s top concerns. We are lagging behind Asian countries in food production and we continue to import our prime staple, which is rice. We cannot even teach our small fruit growers how to preserve their produce,” Zarate said. With Christina Mendez


PHILSTAR

Philippines soars to great heights in budget transparency (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 14, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


“We’re elated that the International Budget Partnership has recognized the tremendous improvement in budgetary transparency and participation under the Aquino administration,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said in a statement. Philstar.com/AJ Bolando/File

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines has been cited for open and transparent budget management by the 2015 Open Budget Survey.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said the country received the highest score for budget transparency in Southeast Asia, the second highest in Asia and 21st in the world.

The Philippines’ score went up to 64 (out of 100), up from 48 in 2012, surpassing the government’s own target of 60 and well above the average score of 48 among the countries surveyed.

“We’re elated that the International Budget Partnership has recognized the tremendous improvement in budgetary transparency and participation under the Aquino administration,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said in a statement.

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Spearheaded by the IBP, the OBS is a biennial survey of budget transparency, participation and oversight in countries around the world.

“The independent nature of the survey and thoroughness of its methodology make the OBS a highly credible standard for budget transparency,” Abad said. “Sometimes the DBM receives criticism for its openness initiatives, including Bottom-Up Budgeting. We believe the IBP’s positive assessment of the Philippines will balance out that criticism.”

The OBS gauges budget transparency on the basis of public availability and comprehensiveness of the eight Essential Budget Documents, including the budget proposal, budget enactment, citizen’s budget, mid-year review and audit report, among others.

The survey also measures the country’s budget oversight by he legislature and the supreme audit institution, as well as the extent of public participation in the country’s budget process.


MANILA STANDARD

Moody’s reduces PH growth forecast to 5.7%  By Julito G. Rada | Sep. 08, 2015 at 11:45pm

Global debt watcher Moody’s Investors Service on Tuesday cut by 1 percentage point its 2015 growth forecast for the Philippines to 5.7 percent from the previous estimate of 6.7 percent, on sluggish exports, anemic government spending and threat of the El Niño dry spell.

Moody’s also slashed its 2016 growth forecast to 6 percent from the earlier assumption of 6.5 percent.

“In the Philippines, slowing export growth and fiscal underspending weighed on output in the first half of the year. On the supply side, the El Niño-related dry spell hurt agricultural production, contributing to our lower GDP growth forecast of 5.7 percent for 2015,” Moody’s said in a report.

Lower fiscal spending was one of the reasons for the slower-than-expected first-quarter growth of 5 percent. The gross domestic product grew by 5.6 percent in the second quarter, bringing the first-half average to 5.3 percent, below the government’s target of 7 percent to 8 percent for 2015.

The economy grew 6.1 percent in 2014, slower than 7.2-percent expansion registered in 2013. Economists blamed the government’s lower fiscal spending as the culprit for the sluggish 2014 performance.

Moody’s said despite the reduced growth forecast, the Philippines was expected to outperform

other economies in the region, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, whose growth forecasts this year and next were also lowered.

Growth forecast for Indonesia in 2015 was reduced to 4.7 percent from 5 percent; Malaysia, retained at 4.8 percent ; Singapore, cut to 1.7 percent from 3 percent; and Thailand, revised to 2.5 percent from 3 percent.

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Moody’s, however, upgraded Vietnam’s growth forecast to 6.3 percent from 6 percent this year due to the country’s accelerating industrialization and falling reliance on commodities, as well as “nascent signs of a recovery in domestic demand.”

Vietnam’s 2016 growth forecast was also increased to 6.2 percent from 6 percent previously.

Moody’s said it expected fiscal disbursements in the Philippines to accelerate in the second half, and “to see further progress on infrastructure development related to the government’s public private partnership program.”

Moody’s said weak demand from China had dampened overall export outlook for the region, while softer commodity prices would weigh on some sovereigns’ export revenues, external positions and fiscal balances.

“Internally, an anticipated investment boost from government infrastructure spending has not materialized in some cases. Moreover, households are saving more of the income gains from lower energy costs than we previously expected, despite easing by central banks in the

region. Market volatility and political risk are also weighing on confidence,” it said.

The report also said that while slower growth was a credit-negative development, the profiles of Asia-Pacific sovereigns would be resilient.

“Firstly, growth in emerging Asia and Apac [Asia-Pacific] as a whole is still stronger than most other regions. We project the median of real GDP growth in emerging Asia to come in at 4.7 percent this year and 4.5 percent next, and Apac to grow 3.9 percent and 3.8 percent respectively,” it said.

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

State debt up to P5.85T in July By: Ben O. de Vera @BenArnolddeVera Philippine Daily Inquirer 08:17 AM September 9th, 2015

The outstanding debt of the government inched up to P5.847 trillion as of the end of July mainly due to the peso’s depreciation, the latest Bureau of the Treasury data showed.

The end-July figure was higher by 0.5 percent than the P5.816 trillion posted a month ago and 2.9 percent higher than the P5.683 trillion a year ago.

Domestic debt reached P3.859 trillion as of end-July, up 0.5 percent from P3.839 trillion at end-June and higher by 2.7 percent than the P3.757 trillion posted last year.

In a statement, the Treasury attributed the higher domestic obligations in July to the netissuance of government securities worth P19.4 billion, coupled with the upward adjustment of about P200 million in the peso value of offshore bonds, as the peso depreciated to 45.6:$1 from 45.2:$1 in the previous month.

Treasury data showed that as of July, long-term domestic debt accounted for P3.18 trillion; medium-term liabilities hit P401 billion, and short-term debt, P401 billion.

At end-July, domestic obligations composed two-thirds of the total outstanding debt.

Foreign debt also inched up by 0.6 percent to P1.988 trillion in July from P1.977 trillion in June and higher by 3.2 percent than the P1.926 trillion in July last year.

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The higher external debt came on the back of the peso’s depreciation against the US dollar, which brought up the peso value of dollar debt by P17.5 billion. The external debt was nonetheless narrowed by the downward revaluation of third currency debt against the peso, which amounted P6.7 billion.

Also, the Treasury said net availment in July, “though not significant,” added about P680 million to foreign debt that month.

The government’s outstanding guaranteed debt increased by 0.2 percent to P402.6 billion in July, from P401.9 billion in June.

But compared to the year-ago level, the July 2015 figure was down 11.9 percent from P456.9 billion in 2014.

The Treasury said the month-on-month increase was caused by the “combined effect of currency adjustments which raised the peso value of debt by P2.6 billion and net availment on external guarantees amounting to [about] P10 million.”

“These more than offset the net repayment of domestic guarantees amounting to [about] P50 billion and the P1.8-billion reduction in value of external guarantees due to third currency depreciation against the US dollar,” the Treasury added.

As of July, the outstanding guaranteed domestic debt reached P105.9 billion, flat month on month but down 19.2 percent year on year.

Guaranteed foreign debt as of July was P296.8 billion, up 0.3 percent from a month ago but 8.9-percent lower than a year ago.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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