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BUSINESS HEADLINES THIS PAST WEEK...
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

TODAY IS  ELECTIONS 2016 DAY!

DUTERTE CAUSING MARKET JITTERS


MAY 3 -Davao City Mayor and presidential asporant -Rodrigo Duterte speaks in a business forum in Makati, Wednesday. Philippine presidential favorite Rodrigo Duterte’s vague economic plans and threats to kill thousands of criminals are spooking the financial markets, with one business leader warning Tuesday the trash-talking politician would bring anarchy. The key Philippine Stock Exchange index fell on Tuesday for the fifth consecutive day, a stretch that began after Duterte made a speech before top business leaders in which he joked about his penis and vowed to pardon himself for mass murder. Ramon del Rosario, head of the prestigious Makati Business Club that hosted Duterte last week, wrote a column Tuesday in the Philippine Daily Inquirer criticizing the candidate’s “distinct lack of respect for the rule of law.” READ: A vote for our future “Without the rule of law, there will be chaos and anarchy, and no confidence in our country. Without confidence, there will be no investments, and without investments, there will be no jobs,” del Rosario wrote. With the key stock exchange index down 1.62 percent since Duterte’s speech, analysts said investors were nervously waiting to learn more about his economic policies. “They are not sure about his economic platform because Duterte has always emphasised his campaign on corruption and not what he would do about the economy,” research chief April Lee Tan of Manila-based securities firm COL Financial told AFP. “That uncertainty is causing a lot of investors to stay on the sidelines and wait and see how a Duterte presidency would pan out.” Duterte, 71, enjoys a double-digit lead in the polls over four opponents ahead of Monday’s national elections. READ MORE...

ALSO: Poll jitters, external factors keep stock index in red


MAY 7 -The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) eased 7.88 points, or 0.11 percent, to settle at 6,991.87. File photo 
Pre-election jitters and external factors kept share prices in negative territory yesterday, the last day of the trading week prior to Monday’s presidential and national elections.
The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) eased 7.88 points, or 0.11 percent, to settle at 6,991.87. The broader All Shares index, however, manage to inch up 0.94 points or 0.03 percent to close at 4,163.06. Luis Limlingan, managing director at Regina Capital, said pre election jitters affected the market. The business community has repeatedly voiced out concerns over a Rodrigo Duterte presidency given his failure to outline his economic policies. The former mayor is leading in the pre-election opinion polls. But Limlingan said external factors also weighed down yesterday’s trading session. “Philippine markets closed before a US jobs report….data is expected to show that employers added 200,000 new workers to US non-farm payrolls in April, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, with the jobless rate edging down a tenth of a percentage point to 4.9 percent or close to Federal Reserve’s estimates of full employment,” Limlingan said. He said rallies above the 200-day moving average would allow recovery to as high as 7,100 but advised selling positions until prices stabilize. Value turnover reached P7.27 billion as decliners outnumbered advancers, 95 to 80 while 47 stocks were unchanged. READ MORE...RELATED IMF, candidates tackle tax reform separately, but Duterte plan missing...

ALSO: FIT TO ACT ON BUSINESS WISH LIST; TOSS-UP BETWEEN MAR, GRACE


MAY 6 -It is a tossup between administration bet Mar Roxas and Senator Grace Poe for businessmen, but overweight on Mar whom they see as the best to act on their wish list.
Peter Perfecto, executive director of Makati Business Club (MBC), said the group is not endorsing any candidate, but based on the survey done by the group, the two are best equipped to work on the three priorities they have chosen. Perfecto said the Executive Outlook Survey (EOS) done in March listed the top three priorities as infrastructure, corruption and peace and order. “Based on that survey and the dialogues we had with the candidates, the ones who had presented a clear platform on what our members feel are important are Sen. Poe and (former Interior) Secretary Roxas. They were the ones who told us how they plan to achieve certain priorities and the priorities they talked about are in line with what our members feel are important,” said Perfecto, referring to the presidential dialogue series conducted by MBC. Only Poe, Roxas and Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte attended the series. “Secretary Mar Roxas and Sen. Grace Poe clearly talked about those things. They have no governance or corruption issues. The other one has not explained anything to us,” Perfecto said, referring to Duterte. READ MORE...

ALSO: 18 areas still under state of calamity


MAY 3 -CEBU CITY PLACED UNDER STATE OF CALAMITY 
Eighteen provinces remained under a state of calamity due to the El Niño, which has reportedly ravaged some P6 billion worth of crops so far this year. These areas, which were also automatically placed under a price freeze for 60 days, were identified as Palawan, Guimaras, Iloilo, Cebu, Bohol, Negros Occidental, Zamboanga del Norte, Bukidnon, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, North Cotabato, General Santos City, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, Basilan, Maguindanao and Butuan City. Majority of the areas placed under a state of calamity were in Mindanao where the El Niño has been causing food insecurity.
Trade Undersecretary Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba said in a briefing Monday that their latest monitoring activities in these areas showed the prices of basic goods and prime commodities were stable as supply remained sufficient. The only exception was Bukidnon where 27 out of the 68 establishments inspected were issued show-cause orders for selling basic necessities at higher than the suggested retail prices (SRP). Basic goods include canned fish and other marine products, processed milk, coffee, laundry bar, candles, bread, salt, instant noodles and bottled water. Prime commodities would include flour, canned pork, chicken and beef, vinegar, fish sauce, soy sauce, bath soap, paper, school supplies, cement, clinker, GI sheets, hollow blocks, construction materials, batteries, electrical supplies, light bulbs and steel wires. In a related development, Dimagiba disclosed that prices of school supplies increased this year due to rising costs of raw materials and foreign currency adjustments. READ MORE...

ALSO: Commentary - Economic prospects under the new president


MAY 4 -The five presidential candidates greet spectators at the Phinma University of Pangasinan in Dagupan City on Sunday, April 24, 2016. ABS-CBN/MB/Released  A few days from now come the reality that the Philippines will have a new leader to take over the reins of power for the next six years. The 17th president of the Republic of the Philippines stands to inherit a country severely factionalized politically and economically misappropriated, where each presidential contender claiming to be the rightful leader. The would-be elected president and vice president in this political exercise will have their hands full trying to address an economic "progress" not felt at the grassroots level, a growth rate that was exclusive to the oligarchs but remains elusive to the lowly populace. Objectivity dictates that the life of the people in the lower strata has remained pitiable before and after the six-year term of the Aquino administration. The claims of an improved life remain exclusive to those with capital, affirming the age-old adage, "wealth begets wealth." The Conditional Cash Transfer program that has become a political leverage by whoever is in power has taught its beneficiaries to rely on mere government dole-outs instead of being self-sufficient as shown by the increasing number of poor people who rely on this "almsgiving" program of the government. It has defeated its objective of providing people with ways and means of sustaining their own lives. The incoming administration in its thrust of alleviating the plight of the poor should devise a system by which they would slowly detach the poor from being a "charity dependent" individual merely relying on dole-out to an independent productive individual contributing to the citizenry and the economic institution. Homestretch "Into the homestretch," as what the announcer would blurt out when he calls the race horses in the final bend going to the finish line. It is now "hang time" for everyone who is rooting for their respective candidates in the upcoming poll. As what we are known here in the Philippines, what transpires and will transpire in the next few days will be a cause for debates, arguments or otherwise; proving to all and sundry that debates on politics and or political issues is our national past time. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Boo Chanco - Myanmar’s budding democracy
[Readers have been asking who I am voting for this Monday. I am only sure of voting for Leni Robredo for Vice President because her rivals are ordinary politicians who do not have her grassroots service record. For President, I am still deciding between Miriam or Grace. For senators, off the top of my head, Osmena, Ople, Gordon, Romulo, Alunan, Pangilinan, Petilla, Guingona and Bello. I will try to complete the list on Election Day. For party list, I am voting for RAM only because their principal nominee is Gen. Danny Lim. The general was eased out of Customs by the Daang Matuwid administration because he was determined to clean up Customs and stepped on powerful toes at the Palace. In the meantime, I am enjoying some time away from the electoral noise which had become unbearable lately].


MAY 6 -BOO CHANCO
YANGON, Myanmar — What am I doing out of the country a few days before our election? I thought it would be a good idea to step back from the heat of our election campaign. It would be good to get a perspective of things. The budding democracy and booming economy of Myanmar seems a good place to do that.
Why Myanmar? I was last here 14 years ago and I had been curious to see the changes in its domestic politics and the economy first hand. I also got intrigued by a glowing review of Myanmar from the ADB, gushing about it as the fastest growing country in Asia. When I first visited in 2002, I saw a Yangon as if it was frozen in time, the 50s. Yangon did not have the adrenaline rush of Saigon. It didn’t have much of the infrastructure one would associate with its neighbors. Life seemed so easy going amidst the lush greenery of the surroundings. I wrote in 2002 that “maybe the ruling junta will wake up one morning feeling like Lee Kuan Yew. Any positive shift in the political winds will enable the country to shift from mere survival mode. The country has huge potentials and could be an important competitor in the tiger race among the ASEAN countries.” Myanmar did wake up and now their experiment in democracy seems to be holding up. That in turn is moving the economy. The mere act of opening the country to the world had primed the economy for growth. Yangon’s international airport was primitive in 2002 but now… while it isn’t quite Changi may soon be better than NAIA. They are expanding their terminal building to accommodate more and more visitors. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Duterte causing market jitters


Davao City Mayor and presidential asporant Rodrigo Duterte speaks in a business forum in Makati, Wednesday.

MANILA, MAY 9, 2016 (INQUIRER) @inquirerdotnet Agence France-Presse 06:16 PM May 3rd, 2016 - Philippine presidential favorite Rodrigo Duterte’s vague economic plans and threats to kill thousands of criminals are spooking the financial markets, with one business leader warning Tuesday the trash-talking politician would bring anarchy.

The key Philippine Stock Exchange index fell on Tuesday for the fifth consecutive day, a stretch that began after Duterte made a speech before top business leaders in which he joked about his penis and vowed to pardon himself for mass murder.

Ramon del Rosario, head of the prestigious Makati Business Club that hosted Duterte last week, wrote a column Tuesday in the Philippine Daily Inquirer criticizing the candidate’s “distinct lack of respect for the rule of law.”

READ: A vote for our future

“Without the rule of law, there will be chaos and anarchy, and no confidence in our country. Without confidence, there will be no investments, and without investments, there will be no jobs,” del Rosario wrote.

With the key stock exchange index down 1.62 percent since Duterte’s speech, analysts said investors were nervously waiting to learn more about his economic policies.

“They are not sure about his economic platform because Duterte has always emphasised his campaign on corruption and not what he would do about the economy,” research chief April Lee Tan of Manila-based securities firm COL Financial told AFP.

“That uncertainty is causing a lot of investors to stay on the sidelines and wait and see how a Duterte presidency would pan out.”

Duterte, 71, enjoys a double-digit lead in the polls over four opponents ahead of Monday’s national elections.

READ MORE...

READ: Duterte takes 12-pt lead in latest ABS-CBN-Pulse Asia survey

This is despite shocking the political establishment with his profanity-laced speeches, which have included cursing the pope and a joke about raping an Australian missionary who was murdered in a 1989 prison riot.

Analysts say his promises of quick fixes to crime and other deep-rooted problems resonate with voters who feel the six-percent economic growth delivered under President Benigno Aquino III has failed to improve their lives.

Duterte has been the mayor of the major southern city of Davao for more than two decades. He claims to have fixed crime and thus enabled businesses to succeed there by a ruthless crackdown on criminals.

His critics say Davao is not the utopian society portrayed by Duterte, and point to vigilante death squads that have killed more than 1,000 people there as an example of what the rest of the country can expect if he becomes president.

Aquino, who is limited by the constitution to a single six-year term, warned last week in a thinly-veiled reference to Duterte that the country risked falling into dictatorship.

Duterte campaign manager Leoncio Evasco on Tuesday accused the Aquino government of orchestrating a “vilification campaign” against the front-runner.

RELATED STORIES

Duterte: I’d rather lose polls than lose my identity

Duterte: Yes, I’m a dictator, so what?


PHILSTAR

Poll jitters, external factors keep index in red By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 7, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) eased 7.88 points, or 0.11 percent, to settle at 6,991.87. File photo

MANILA, Philippines - Pre-election jitters and external factors kept share prices in negative territory yesterday, the last day of the trading week prior to Monday’s presidential and national elections.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) eased 7.88 points, or 0.11 percent, to settle at 6,991.87.

The broader All Shares index, however, manage to inch up 0.94 points or 0.03 percent to close at 4,163.06.

Luis Limlingan, managing director at Regina Capital, said pre election jitters affected the market.

The business community has repeatedly voiced out concerns over a Rodrigo Duterte presidency given his failure to outline his economic policies. The former mayor is leading in the pre-election opinion polls.

But Limlingan said external factors also weighed down yesterday’s trading session.

“Philippine markets closed before a US jobs report….data is expected to show that employers added 200,000 new workers to US non-farm payrolls in April, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, with the jobless rate edging down a tenth of a percentage point to 4.9 percent or close to Federal Reserve’s estimates of full employment,” Limlingan said.

He said rallies above the 200-day moving average would allow recovery to as high as 7,100 but advised selling positions until prices stabilize.

Value turnover reached P7.27 billion as decliners outnumbered advancers, 95 to 80 while 47 stocks were unchanged.

-------------------------------------------------------

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

IMF, candidates tackle tax reform separately, but Duterte plan missing By Prinz P. Magtulis (philstar.com) | Updated May 3, 2016 - 5:55pm 11 19 googleplus0 0


An IMF tax policy mission is in the country until Friday to talk with revenue officials and come up with recommendations. Davao OCIO/Released

MANILA, Philippines — Tax policy prescriptions for the next administration are being tackled with a team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as presidential candidates themselves present their own plans, except Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

"They asked about the state of the economy and tax reforms which could be undertaken by the next administration," Finance Undersecretary and chief economist Gil Beltran said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

"There is nothing much more that you could do during this administration. So we are more concerned on what can be suggested for the next one," he added.

An IMF tax policy mission is in the country until Friday to talk with revenue officials and come up with recommendations.

The team, led by fiscal operations Assistant Director Victoria Perry, visited upon invitation from the Department of Finance (DOF).

This develops as industry group Tax Management Association of the Philippines (TMAP) said only poll frontrunner Duterte has not submitted answers to its tax policy survey given two weeks ago.

"We last followed up (on Monday), but we did not get any reply. We are open to receive their response any time," TMAP president Benedict Tugonon said by phone separately.

The STAR contacted Davao councilor Mabel Acosta of the Duterte camp, but did not get any reply.

Stance of candidates

READ MORE...

Tax issues took center stage on this year's polls after last year's failed legislative effort to lower income levies, following President Aquino's opposition.

For Beltran, ongoing IMF consultations will help the new government proceed with much-needed tax reform agenda.

The DOF presented its draft comprehensive tax reform bill to the IMF team, he said, to get their feedback. The proposal include lower income taxes to be offset by higher excise levies on oil.

RELATED: DOF proposes tax reform bill to incoming government Primary tabs

In a newsletter, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said it also met with the multilateral agency.

"They discussed tax administration reforms of the financial sectors, specifically the compliance risks of large companies, cross-border transactions, withholding tax and tax treaty negotiation," the newsletter said.

BIR representatives also briefed their IMF counterparts on reforms financed by the recently concluded $54.3-million Revenue Administration Reform Project under the US compact.

TMAP's Tugonon, meanwhile, said he hoped to come up with comparison of candidates' tax reform agenda once Duterte submits his survey answers.

Duterte has publicly supported removing income taxes for those earning P20,000 and below, but Tugonon said TMAP wants a "comprehensive" tax plan under its survey.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the last one who submitted was administration bet Mar Roxas. The STAR already reported last week tax reform plans by the other contenders.

Among others, Roxas said he is for the adjustment of personal income tax brackets to promote "equity." He opposed automatic indexation of tax levies to inflation.

He also said "no" to higher excise taxes on oil, something which Sens. Grace Poe and Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Vice President Jejomar Binay support.

On the flip side, Roxas, like Poe and Binay, is also against increasing value-added tax. Santiago has said earlier she will hike it to 15 percent by 2019.


MALAYA

FIT TO ACT ON BUSINESS WISH LIST; TOSS-UP BETWEEN MAR, GRACE By Irma Isip May 06, 2016


It is a tossup between administration bet Mar Roxas and Senator Grace Poe for businessmen, but overweight on Mar whom they see as the best to act on their wish list.

Peter Perfecto, executive director of Makati Business Club (MBC), said the group is not endorsing any candidate, but based on the survey done by the group, the two are best equipped to work on the three priorities they have chosen.

Perfecto said the Executive Outlook Survey (EOS) done in March listed the top three priorities as infrastructure, corruption and peace and order.

“Based on that survey and the dialogues we had with the candidates, the ones who had presented a clear platform on what our members feel are important are Sen. Poe and (former Interior) Secretary Roxas. They were the ones who told us how they plan to achieve certain priorities and the priorities they talked about are in line with what our members feel are important,” said Perfecto, referring to the presidential dialogue series conducted by MBC. Only Poe, Roxas and Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte attended the series.

“Secretary Mar Roxas and Sen. Grace Poe clearly talked about those things. They have no governance or corruption issues. The other one has not explained anything to us,” Perfecto said, referring to Duterte.

READ MORE...

Perfecto added: “There is serious concern about the words of the mayor. He has said things that (would) trouble the business community and surely trouble foreign investors. We gave him a chance to tell us more how he plans to address the economy but he did not take that chance. Instead of sharing with us a clear platform on the economy and on doing business, he basically made statements that added to the worry of some sectors in the business community.”

Perfecto has this advice to voters not only among the business community but to the voting population: “Elections is part of a democratic process we won back 30 years ago. When you make your choice, make sure that choice will continue to protect that democracy.”

In the EOS, respondents were asked the top agenda priorities for the next administration: 57.75 percent of the respondents listed infrastructure; 40.85 percent said corruption and 32.39 percent said peace and order.

Other notable issues identified include the following, in no particular order: poverty, job generation, agriculture and education, among others.


INQUIRER

18 areas still under state of calamity @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:10 AM May 3rd, 2016


CEBU CITY PLACED UNDER STATE OF CALAMITY

Eighteen provinces remained under a state of calamity due to the El Niño, which has reportedly ravaged some P6 billion worth of crops so far this year.

These areas, which were also automatically placed under a price freeze for 60 days, were identified as Palawan, Guimaras, Iloilo, Cebu, Bohol, Negros Occidental, Zamboanga del Norte, Bukidnon, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, North Cotabato, General Santos City, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, Basilan, Maguindanao and Butuan City. Majority of the areas placed under a state of calamity were in Mindanao where the El Niño has been causing food insecurity.

Trade Undersecretary Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba said in a briefing Monday that their latest monitoring activities in these areas showed the prices of basic goods and prime commodities were stable as supply remained sufficient.

The only exception was Bukidnon where 27 out of the 68 establishments inspected were issued show-cause orders for selling basic necessities at higher than the suggested retail prices (SRP).

Basic goods include canned fish and other marine products, processed milk, coffee, laundry bar, candles, bread, salt, instant noodles and bottled water. Prime commodities would include flour, canned pork, chicken and beef, vinegar, fish sauce, soy sauce, bath soap, paper, school supplies, cement, clinker, GI sheets, hollow blocks, construction materials, batteries, electrical supplies, light bulbs and steel wires.

In a related development, Dimagiba disclosed that prices of school supplies increased this year due to rising costs of raw materials and foreign currency adjustments.

READ MORE...

According to Dimagiba, the prices of Best Buy brand of notebooks increased by 4 percent this year, while those of crayons rose by about 8 to 18 percent. Certain brands of pencils, ballpens and erasers have similarly increased in prices as well.

According to Dimagiba, the Department of Trade and Industry planned to release a more detailed SRP for school supplies, which would show the different brands and their prices, from the most affordable to the most expensive ones. This was meant to raise the awareness of consumers regarding the options they have for the coming school year.

Based on the latest SRP provided by the DTI, the price of notebooks should range from P10 to P31; pad papers, P9 to P41.75; crayons, P10.75 to P58.75; pencils, up to P30.75 for a three-piece pack, and erasers, from P5 to P8.

Dimagiba added that the prices of construction materials have also remained stable despite the rise in infrastructure activities. The products monitored included cement, common wire nails, steel wire, GI sheet, steel bars and electrical supplies. Amy R. Remo


PHILSTAR

Commentary: Economic prospects under the new president By Emmanuel J. Lopez (philstar.com) | Updated May 4, 2016 - 12:54pm 1 85 googleplus0 0


The five presidential candidates greet spectators at the Phinma University of Pangasinan in Dagupan City on Sunday, April 24, 2016. ABS-CBN/MB/Released

A few days from now come the reality that the Philippines will have a new leader to take over the reins of power for the next six years. The 17th president of the Republic of the Philippines stands to inherit a country severely factionalized politically and economically misappropriated, where each presidential contender claiming to be the rightful leader. The would-be elected president and vice president in this political exercise will have their hands full trying to address an economic "progress" not felt at the grassroots level, a growth rate that was exclusive to the oligarchs but remains elusive to the lowly populace. Objectivity dictates that the life of the people in the lower strata has remained pitiable before and after the six-year term of the Aquino administration. The claims of an improved life remain exclusive to those with capital, affirming the age-old adage, "wealth begets wealth."

The Conditional Cash Transfer program that has become a political leverage by whoever is in power has taught its beneficiaries to rely on mere government dole-outs instead of being self-sufficient as shown by the increasing number of poor people who rely on this "almsgiving" program of the government. It has defeated its objective of providing people with ways and means of sustaining their own lives. The incoming administration in its thrust of alleviating the plight of the poor should devise a system by which they would slowly detach the poor from being a "charity dependent" individual merely relying on dole-out to an independent productive individual contributing to the citizenry and the economic institution.

Homestretch

"Into the homestretch," as what the announcer would blurt out when he calls the race horses in the final bend going to the finish line. It is now "hang time" for everyone who is rooting for their respective candidates in the upcoming poll. As what we are known here in the Philippines, what transpires and will transpire in the next few days will be a cause for debates, arguments or otherwise; proving to all and sundry that debates on politics and or political issues is our national past time.

READ MORE...

Based on the past three surveys conducted by two reputable firms, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte remains the top choice to become the next president. Despite major issues thrown against him including the kitchen sink, his position in the survey remains firm at the top place and has even increased. Trolls left and right and even dossier showing the "dark side" of the mayor has all been publicized but this seems not to have affected the position of his supporters. Political personalities were amazed at the phenomenal rise in the popularity of Duterte, catching them flatfooted and now everybody are up in arms to stall the bid of the mayor.

Foreseeable business future

With the economy expected to increase by at least 6 to 7 percent at the end of the fiscal year, whoever becomes president is pressured to achieve and sustain an economy that has been widely acclaimed because of its positive perception of growth. The numerous high credit ratings that have become the "bragging rights" of this administration are expected to be supported and maintained by the incoming leader. It is beside the point whether he comes from the administration or otherwise since it is logical to maintain a certain level of continuity that would maintain or improve the current economic and financial position of the country. Regardless of political priorities, picking up from where this administration will leave should be the start of something good in terms of political and economic priorities.

Regardless of political priorities, picking up from where this administration will leave should be the start of something good in terms of political and economic priorities. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

What should be foremost in the agenda of the incoming president is the creation of jobs to address the widespread joblessness and job mismatch. Despite reports of employment increase with unemployment has going down from 6.5 percent to 5.8 percent, the figure fails to include the approximately 3,000 people in Leyte who remained unemployed since day one of the Supertyphoon Yolanda (Haiyan) tragedy. Practically, the predominance of poverty still feeds in our economy.

What is worth observing is the fact that inflation rate remains stable at approximately 1 to 1.5 percent which may be both positive and negative to our economy.

Economic policy may not vary whoever will be the chief executive because priorities remain the same as far as domestic need is concerned. It is not easy to realize that despite variations in the candidates' platform of government, this is boils down to addressing people's needs.

Priorities remain the same as far as domestic need is concerned. Graft and corruption remained a pain in the neck of any administration, and will continue in the next. A more complex approach to government bureaucracy coupled with hands-on policy of the leader remains the most effective approach to a graft-free leadership. Statistics show that about 30 percent of government funds are wasted through corrupt practices.

Emmanuel J. Lopez, Ph.D. is an associate professor at the University of Santo Tomas and the chair of its Department of Economics. Views reflected in this article are his own. For comments email: doc.ejlopez@gmail.com


PHILSTAR

Myanmar’s budding democracy DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 6, 2016 - 12:00am 1 2 googleplus0 0


BOO CHANCO

YANGON, Myanmar — What am I doing out of the country a few days before our election? I thought it would be a good idea to step back from the heat of our election campaign. It would be good to get a perspective of things. The budding democracy and booming economy of Myanmar seems a good place to do that.

Why Myanmar? I was last here 14 years ago and I had been curious to see the changes in its domestic politics and the economy first hand. I also got intrigued by a glowing review of Myanmar from the ADB, gushing about it as the fastest growing country in Asia.

When I first visited in 2002, I saw a Yangon as if it was frozen in time, the 50s. Yangon did not have the adrenaline rush of Saigon. It didn’t have much of the infrastructure one would associate with its neighbors. Life seemed so easy going amidst the lush greenery of the surroundings.

I wrote in 2002 that “maybe the ruling junta will wake up one morning feeling like Lee Kuan Yew. Any positive shift in the political winds will enable the country to shift from mere survival mode. The country has huge potentials and could be an important competitor in the tiger race among the ASEAN countries.”

Myanmar did wake up and now their experiment in democracy seems to be holding up. That in turn is moving the economy. The mere act of opening the country to the world had primed the economy for growth.

Yangon’s international airport was primitive in 2002 but now… while it isn’t quite Changi may soon be better than NAIA. They are expanding their terminal building to accommodate more and more visitors.

READ MORE...

The biggest change I noticed as we drove to our hotel is increasing traffic congestion. There are a lot more cars on the road. If Mar Roxas were here, he would rejoice and call those traffic jams a definite sign of progress. The city is also no longer as green and is fast turning into an urban concrete jungle.

One thing is very obvious. They are determined to catch up with their ASEAN peers. Unlike us, they didn’t even let a serious natural calamity slow them down. As the ADB pointed out, despite flooding that devastated one-fifth of the country’s farm land, Myanmar’s economy is expected to grow 8.4 percent in 2016 and early 2017. The ADB’s Asian Development Outlook 2016 says this is the highest rate in Asia and the Pacific.

It apparently all began in 2011 when a series of political and economic reforms started bringing Myanmar out of a largely self imposed isolation from the world. The economy of Myanmar has experienced strong growth, exceeding six percent gross domestic product expansion every year since 2012. They showed much could be done in five years or in less time than one presidential term for us.

Many feared that a cyclone could derail the country’s fragile economic and social gains.

“In July–August 2015, a cyclone and intense monsoonal rains caused widespread flooding and landslides that displaced more than 1.6 million people, killed 132, and devastated one-fifth of all cultivated land,” stated the Asian Development Outlook 2016 report.

The economic cost was estimated at $1.5 billion, equal to a staggering three percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Agriculture, which accounts for 30 percent of GDP and more than 60 percent of employment, was devastated by the disaster.

But the people of Myanmar managed to rebuild devastated areas and provide relief to affected people with the help of the international community. The storm did little to slow down the rest of the booming economy, the ADB reports, with garment exports increasing by 28 percent to $2 billion. Natural gas exports slightly increased as well.

Tourism was also a major driver of the economy with 4.7 million arrivals in 2015. Spending by tourists rose by 19 percent to $2.1 billion in 2015. In comparison, last year we had a little over five million foreign visitors generating some $5.5 billion in tourism earnings.

Myanmar has become so promising some of our biggest conglomerates from Ayala to Metro Pacific have started to look at Myanmar’s potentials.

A Google search revealed a report from abs-cbnnews.com that three years ago, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala already announced they have been looking at Myanmar.

“We’ve sent a number of teams to Myanmar from different companies quite a few times now... Our job is to get comfortable with the country and to begin to understand the government structure, the regulatory structure,” Zobel de Ayala said in a briefing.

He shared Ayala Corp. is currently in talks with Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) for a possible telco venture in Myanmar.

“SingTel is taking the lead... We are now working with SingTel to potentially participate and be allowed to enter a bid for telecommunications. But we are looking at other opportunities to take up real estate space in Myanmar and the banking space as well,” he added. I am told that Manila Water is now here. Ayala is also poised to enter the property development sector, some Pinoy expats here told me.

MPIC has also started to look but have not found a good opportunity for a tollway. But I was told that they found the potential for water treatment may be more promising.

In healthcare, MPIC and its Singaporean sovereign wealth fund partner are also looking at establishing a presence in several Southeast Asian countries including Myanmar. Pinoy expats here told me this is one great need.

Already doing business in Myanmar is Liwayway Oishi. Carlos Chan built a factory for Oishi snacks here in 1998 when investing in this country is considered a really brave pioneering act. United Drug is an even braver pioneer here. Many Filipinos are also working in hotels as staff and entertainers. On the drive to our hotel, I saw a brightly lit showroom of Prestige Cars. Apparently, Palawan Gov. Alvarez is here as the exclusive dealer of BMW cars.

The thing with Myanmar is that they need almost everything in a hurry. Power availability is a big problem. They were depending on big dams for power and the drought diminished the ability of hydro resources to meet increasing power needs. They need all types of infrastructure from transport to water systems. Telecoms is a very competitive sector yet service quality remains poor, like ours. There are other problems.

ADB pointed out that Myanmar is facing significant economic challenges. Like all countries in Asia, it is affected by moderating growth in China. But that impact is being lessened by closer economic relations with its other neighbors, India and Thailand, according to the Asian Development Outlook 2016 report.

ADB reports that some regions remain affected by conflict driven by ethnic and sectarian tension. Myanmar’s economy is narrowly based, the ADB outlook report tells us, “with growth depending on natural resource exports, construction, and tourism.” Reforms are underway to address corruption, encourage the growth of the private sector and diversify the economy.

The big risk in Myanmar now, the ADB thinks, is “the capacity of the new government to maintain reform, and vulnerability to bad weather.” They could say the same thing too about us. But ADB is bullish on Myanmar and projects continued strong economic growth at 8.3 percent, still one of the highest rates in Asia.

May 9 election

Readers have been asking who I am voting for this Monday. I am only sure of voting for Leni Robredo for Vice President because her rivals are ordinary politicians who do not have her grassroots service record. For President, I am still deciding between Miriam or Grace.

For senators, off the top of my head, Osmena, Ople, Gordon, Romulo, Alunan, Pangilinan, Petilla, Guingona and Bello. I will try to complete the list on Election Day. For party list, I am voting for RAM only because their principal nominee is Gen. Danny Lim. The general was eased out of Customs by the Daang Matuwid administration because he was determined to clean up Customs and stepped on powerful toes at the Palace.

In the meantime, I am enjoying some time away from the electoral noise which had become unbearable lately.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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