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BOI Investment Pledges Hit P273-B in Mid-July ‘17

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The Board of Investments (BOI), the country’s leading investment promotion agency (IPA), has approved a total of PHP272.7 billion from January to mid-July 2017.

BOI Managing Head and Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo told reporters that investment pledges up to mid-July this year was higher by 30 percent from PHP210.4 billion approvals in January to July 2016.

The increase in investments in mid-July was boosted by the registration of the PHP79-billion MRT-7 project of San Miguel Corp..

The MRT-7 project involves the construction of 23-kilometer elevated railway with 14 stations from San Jose Del Monte in Bulacan connecting to MRT-3 North Avenue Station in Quezon City and a 22-kilometer asphalt road from Bocaue Interchange of North Luzon Expressway to intermodal terminal in Tala, Caloocan City.

But it was noted that investment approvals in BOI during the first semester of 2017 only inched up by 1.0 percent to PHP188 billion from PHP186 billion in the same period last year.

Rodolfo said most of investors were waiting for the release of the 2017 Investment Promotion Plan (IPP) guidelines before registering their projects with the BOI; hence, the almost flat growth in approvals in the first half of the year.

The 2017 IPP was approved by President Rodrigo Duterte on February 28, 2017. It took effect on March 18, 2017, but the BOI only released the guidelines recently.

With the theme of “Scaling Up and Dispersing Opportunities”, the 2017 IPP supports socioeconomic agenda of the President Duterte and in line with the AmBisyon Natin 2040.

Rodolfo mentioned four highlights of the new IPP list — the inclusion of inclusive business, commercialization of research and development and inventions from state universities and colleges as well as the Department of Science and Technology, implementing certain criteria for manufacturing activities, and trainings, particularly for information technology and business process management and maritime sectors.

Meanwhile, project registrations with the BOI in January to mid-July 2017 increased 28 percent to 245 projects from 192 projects in the first seven months of 2016.

Job generation was also higher by 50 percent from 37,487 jobs in H1 2016 to 56,056 in January to mid-July this year.

We still have more projects in the pipeline worth around Php18 billion and is expected to be approved before July ends. We are looking at around PHP290 billion by the end of the month. The figure represents nearly 60 percent of our goal to reach PHP500 billion this year in line with our 50th founding anniversary, so we are on pace to achieve that mark,” Rodolfo said.

He added that potential projects that are seen to be registered with the BOI are in the sectors of cement manufacturing, agro-processing, renewable energy, liquefied petroleum gas terminal, housing, hotels and resorts, and infrastructure. (Kris M. Crismundo/PNA)

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Economy

Personal Remittances for the First 11 Months of 2017 Reach US$28.2 Billion

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Personal remittances from Overseas Filipinos (OFs) reached US$2.5 billion in November 2017, 3.2 percent higher than the level posted in the same month in 2016.

This brought the cumulative remittances for the first 11 months of 2017 to US$28.2 billion, representing a year-on-year growth of 5.1 percent, BSP Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr.

The growth in personal remittances for January to November 2017 was supported by the sustained expansion of remittances from land-based OFs with work contracts of one year or more (3.7 percent) as well as those from sea-based and land-based OFs with work contracts of less than one year (5.1 percent).

Likewise, cash remittances coursed through banks rose by 2.0 percent year-on-year to US$2.3 billion in November 2017. The top countries that contributed to the growth in cash remittances during the month were the United States (1.1 percentage point contribution) and Germany (0.9 percentage point). On a year-to-date basis, cash remittances at end-November 2017 totaled US$25.3 billion. This represents a 4.0 percent increase from the 2016 level. Cash remittances from both land-based and sea-based workers recorded increments of 3.7 percent and 5.1 percent for January to November 2017, respectively.

The bulk of cash remittances for the first eleven months of the year came from the United States, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Japan, United Kingdom, Qatar, Kuwait, Germany, and Hong Kong. Combined remittances from these countries accounted for 80.2 percent of total cash remittances. (BSP)

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BPO Tops Active Job Vacancies at PhilJobNet

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Employment opportunities in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry remains at the leading spot in the top vacancies at the PhilJobNet, the internet-based job and applicant matching portal of the Department of Labor and Employment.

With 6,120 active job vacancies posted for the week, a total of 1,029 available positions are for call center agents as reported by the Bureau of Local Employment (BLE), the agency that maintains the centralized database of PhilJobNet.

The other vacancies in the online portal include cashier with 560; service crew with 525; janitor with 380; salesman with 358; customer service assistant with 354; heavy equipment operator with 303; food service dispatcher with 297; market salesperson with 218; and staff nurse with 214.

Other posted vacancies are cook with 201; credit/collection officer with 201; mason with 200; cash collector with 200; electromechanical technician with 198; finishing carpenter with 189; sales clerk with 178; administrative assistant with 168; and supervising management specialist with 160.

Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III encouraged the public to make full use of the PhilJobNet’s enhanced services as it fast tracks the jobseekers’ search for jobs and the employer’s search for workers. (DOLE/ADeVega)

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WHO Praises Tax Hike on Beverages: Roque

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Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Saturday said the tax increase on sweetened beverages is actually beneficial to the Filipino people that even the World Health Organization (WHO) has praised the government for doing so, contrary to claims that newly-enacted Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act is blamed for for the sudden price hike of softdrinks increased by Php3.

“No. 1, the tax on sugar-based softdrinks was actually praised by the WHO as a means of promoting public health because it would discourage the drinking of very sweet softdrinks,” Roque said in press briefing at the Philippine Information Agency regional office here. “Some public schools are not even allowed to sell softdrinks to our children.”

“So, in that sense TRAIN will raise revenues from products which we consider as not being too healthy at the same time promoting public health. But I underscore the fact that most of the basic commodities, even if they were levied additional excise tax, it was at a minimum level,” Roque added.

On concerns that some businessmen taking advantage of TRAIN as reason for imposing undue price increases, Roque said these unscrupulous traders must be reported to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

“Isumbong po natin yan sa DTI because meron pong nilalabag na batas kapag sila’y nagsasamantala sa pagtaas ng presyo at sinisisi sa TRAIN, hindi naman pala napupunta sa gobyerno (Let’s report them to the DTI because they are violating the law when they take advantage on increasing prices and blamed it on TRAIN while the proceeds don’t go to the government’s coffers). Yan po ay pinagbabawal at pinapatawan ng parusa (That is illegal and punishable by law),” Roque said.

When told that transport groups are preparing to petition for fare increases when the excise tax on fuel gets fully implemented, Roque said “that’s within their right.

“That’s pursuant to the law, and that’s the procedure. Jeepney operators cannot just impose unilaterally hike in fare,” he said.

Roque said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board is in “a better position” and is the legal agency that would decide whether or not there should be a fare hike as a result of TRAIN.

“Uulitin ko po, ang TRAIN ay nakakabuti dahil unang-una ay yong kumikita po ng Php250,000 pababa hindi na po magbabayad ng buwis, at yong mga kumikita ng mataas sa Php250,000 ay mas maliit po ang babayaran nilang buhis (I’ll say it again, TRAIN is beneficial because first and foremost those earning Php250,000 and less are exempted from paying income taxes, and those earning over Php250,000 would only pay minimal taxes),” Roque said.

He added that he learned from Department of Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez that the overall contribution of TRAIN to the inflation is not even 1 percent.

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Economy

Exporters Optimistic to Sustain Revenue Growth in 2018

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The Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport), the umbrella organization of exporters in the country, expressed optimism that the sector’s positive growth in 2017 could be sustained this year.

This is despite export revenues in November 2017 recording its slowest growth last year at 1.6 percent year-on-year.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that export revenues in November last year reached USD4.96 billion, slightly higher from USD4.89 billion in November 2016.

Philexport President Sergio Ortiz-Luis told the Philippine News Agency that the slower increase in revenues in November can be attributed to the additional holidays declared in November, which affected the movement of goods.

Aside from last year’s special non-working day during All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1 and the regular holiday on Bonifacio Day, Malacañang Palace declared Nov. 13 to 15 as special non-working days due to the Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN) Summit.

“Due to more holidays, our manufacturing inputs were down,” Ortiz-Luis said.

“November was a slow month for manufacturing and exports last year because of more holidays,” he stressed.

However, the Philexport chief remained optimistic that the increase in export revenues will continue this year with the recovery of global market and the new infrastructure projects of the government.

From January to November last year, Philippine exports rose 10.8 percent to USD58.1 billion from USD52.44 billion in the same period in 2016.

“We’re positive that we can maintain that level of growth this year. We’re hopeful for another double-digit growth,” Ortiz-Luis added.

He also echoed the exporters’ support to the export revenue target of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) under the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP) ‎2017-2022.

The government eyes to reach exports revenue of USD122 billion to USD131 billion at the end of the Duterte administration.

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