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LOAMCP Philippines secures financial support from LifeBank for organic agriculture development

The League of Organic Agriculture Municipalities, Cities, and Provinces of the Philippines (LOAMCP Philippines) has signed a memorandum of agreement with LifeBank Microfinance Foundation, Inc. (LBMFI) securing financial support for its sustainable organic agriculture development program.

LOAMCP Philippines National President, Mayor Rommel Arnado of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte and LifeBank President, Mr. Vicente Perlas, sign the Memorandum Agreement, which provides for capacity building and training support to member LCEs and LGUs.

Based on the signed Agreement, LOAMCP Philippines is expected to achieve the following results: 1) Conduct two batches of training and capacitate at least 20 municipal/city management teams (MCMT) composed of 20 local chief executives (LCEs) and at least 80 municipal agriculturists or municipal organic focal persons and municipal planning development coordinators; 2) Have the MCMTs formulate 100 legally supported Family Investment Master Plans (FIMPs) and 20 Municipal/City Investment Master Plans (MIMPs); 3) Conduct training and practicum modules focusing on the formulation of the FIMPs; 4) Capacitate the municipal teams on the key consideration in leadership governance, practical and science-based sustainable organic agriculture best practices and application in family farms; and 5) Facilitate in the capacitation of the municipal technical teams on the potentials of the Family Farms Investment anchored on the long-term FIMPs, and address the gaps, issues, and concerns by the municipal team in the implementation of the FIMPs.

“We are very grateful for this support coming from LifeBank. We know how committed they are in taking care of the continuity of our strategic planning program and also the enhancement of our workforce in the Secretariat,” said Mayor Rommel Arnado of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, the National President of LOAMCP Philippines.

The program will be implemented by the League for a period of twelve months and the agreement will remain valid until November 2020.

The ceremonial signing of the memorandum of agreement was done during the 12th General Assembly of the League at the Iloilo Grand Hotel, Iloilo City on December 5 where more than a hundred local chief executives, city/municipal agriculturists, planning officers, and organic agriculture focal points from several local government units (LGUs) in the Philippines gathered for membership into the association of LCEs and for learning new opportunities for organic agriculture promotion and development.

LBMFI is a non-stock, non-profit organization headquartered in Iloilo City dedicated to help end poverty by providing microfinance and social services. The Foundation’s outreach covers Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao with the primary purpose of breaking the chains of poverty since 2003. LBMFI was represented in the signing ceremony by its President, Mr. Vicente Perlas.

LOAMCP Philippines is a non-profit, non-government organization composed of local chief executives of municipalities, cities and provinces aiming to promote sustainable organic agriculture development in the country. The League provides a forum for sharing of best practices and new learnings as well as latest trends and important developments and solutions on organic agriculture. To date, the League has 168 members. Supported by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the League continues to invite more LCEs and LGUs. Earlier this year, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año issued a Memorandum Circular (MC 2019-70) directing city and municipal mayors to become a member of the League.

As stated in the DILG Memorandum, “All local chief executives are directed to become members of the LOAMCP. The participation and support of all LGUs to this endeavor are integral in pursuing sustainable organic agriculture in the country.”

(Top photo: A ceremonial signing of the Memorandum of Agreement between LOAMCP Philippines and LifeBank Foundation was organized on the sidelines of the 12th General Assembly of the League at the Iloilo Grand Hotel in Iloilo City on 5 December 2019. Members of the LOAMCP Executive Board witnessed the ceremonial signing.)

Tokyo, MNL to boost exchange on defense, infra, Bangsamoro dev’t

The Philippine and Japanese governments have vowed to increase their cooperation on defense and security, as well as the development of infrastructure in the country, and the Bangsamoro region.

This commitment was made during the second bilateral meeting between Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and his Japanese counterpart, Foreign Minister Taro Kono, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo on Wednesday.

According to a Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) statement issued Friday, the two top diplomats continued their discussions on further elevating the cooperation between the two states under a “strengthened strategic partnership.”

“The two foreign ministers vowed to further advance cooperation, particularly in defense and security, economic cooperation, infrastructure development, and the development of the Bangsamoro region,” it said.

“They also exchanged views on regional issues of mutual concern, including the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea,” it added.

STRENGTHENED PARTNERSHIP. Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. (left) meets with his Japanese counterpart, Foreign Minister Taro Kono at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo on Wednesday (May 29, 2019). During their meeting, they agreed to increase their countries’ cooperation on defense and security, infrastructure development, and the development of the Bangsamoro region. (Photos courtesy of DFA/Rosellie Lacuadra-Bantay and Anthony Cornista)

During the meeting, Locsin highlighted the country’s “profound and abiding friendship” with Japan, attested to by Tokyo’s support through the years.

For his part, Kono noted the “deep relationship” between the two countries, describing it in President Rodrigo Duterte’s words that Japan is the Philippines’ “friend closer than a brother.”

Locsin and Kono’s meeting came three months after they met in Davao City last February 10.

Locsin was in Tokyo to accompany the Chief Executive who participated in the 25th Nikkei Conference on the Future of Asia and met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The DFA said this was Locsin’s first official trip to Japan since assuming office. (Joyce Ann L. Rocamora, PNA)

Philippines improves ranking in global tourism index

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) placed the Philippines in the 13th on the Travel and Tourism Countries Power ranking, and 15th on the Travel and Tourism Countries Performance ranking.

Based on the country’s absolute growth, the Philippines is ranked 13th with an overall score of 19.75 in the WTTC’s Travel and Tourism Countries Power ranking, which is.

Based on compound annual growth, the Philippines is ranked 15th with an overall score of 30.0 in the WTTC’s Travel and Tourism Performance ranking.

Both ranking include four main Travel and Tourism indicators namely: Travel and Tourism total gross domestic product, foreign visitor spending (visitor exports), domestic spending and Travel and Tourism capital investment.

The Philippines ranked eighth among states that have seen the largest growth in travel and tourism’s contribution to GDP from 2011 to 2017, with USD66.3 billion share in 2017 alone.

The Philippines also placed seventh among states where travel and tourism contribution to GDP grew fastest, growing at an annual rate of 14.2 percent.

WTTC’s report involves assessing 185 states based on its travel and tourism sector’s performance from the period of 2011 to 2017 after the financial crisis ended.

The report \also highlights the scale of growth of a country’s travel and tourism in four key areas: contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), international visitor spend, domestic spend, and capital investment.

WTTC is an organization of global business community for the travel and tourism industry that works to raise awareness of travel and tourism as one of the world’s largest industries.

Modern-day Filipino Heroes: Recognizing OFWs deeds, sacrifices

Over 10-million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) worldwide work to earn a living to support their families.

But far more than securing their families’ basic needs, their hard work provides strong remittance inflows which favor the country’s economic development. Their remittance money is a great source of the country’s foreign reserves.

OFWs willingly take the risk of enduring hardships in foreign countries. Many could not even secure better jobs to sustain their family needs.

They toil day and night mainly employed as domestic helpers and caregivers under pressure from both work and homesickness. Being away from their families yet they overcome it patiently only for the sake of loved ones.

Though some of were maltreated and even came home dead, yet the uncertainty of working abroad did not hinder them as long as they have hope to meet their goal in improving their family’s living conditions.

Their willingness to sacrifice for the sake of their loved ones and in turn contribute to the country’s economy earn them worthy to be called our “modern day heroes.”

(Photo credit: Department of Foreign Affairs – Office of Public Diplomacy)

PH employment index Q1 2018 registers 14% growth

The latest Southeast Asia Online Recruitment Trends Report by Monster.com revealed that overall job market activity in the Philippines was positive throughout 2017 while a positive outlook on online hiring for the remainder of 2018 is maintained.

The said Monster.com report gives an overview of the online recruitment landscape, market challenges, opportunities, hiring trends, and issues that matter most to talent leaders across Southeast Asia. The reports also include data points on recruitment activities in Philippines for Q1 2018.

The report said competition for technology talent in the country is expected to intensify this year.

The Monster Employment Index (MEI) in the Philippines registered a 14% growth in March year-on-year, with retail showing the steepest climb in terms of annual growth among all sectors. The MEI Philippines registered strong annual growth of 17% in February 2018.

Among job roles, HR and Admin professionals recorded the highest growth in demand year-on-year. The Philippines recorded an 18% year-on-year increase for the sector in January. February saw a 29% increase, while March soared by 30%. The demand in the first quarter is a continuation of the upward trend seen over the past six months, which accumulates to a 39% increase for that period, and a 34% increase for the first quarter of 2018.

The demand for talent in the Filipino banking and financial services sector is reflected in an increased online hiring activity across the industry. Within the first quarter of 2018, the MEI recorded an overall 19% increase, as well as a continued annual growth for January, February and March with 10%, 14% and 14% respectively.

The spike in hiring activity at the start of 2018 comes as no surprise for the Philippines, given its overall positive hiring trend earlier in 2017, driven partly by positive investor outlook on the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals. Job-generating foreign direct investments (FDI), a key economic driver for the Philippines, also witnessed strong growth in January.

As per a recent study by Microsoft and IDC Asia/Pacific, the Philippines is also expected to witness an increase in its GDP by $8 billion, owing to the expansion of digital transformation. This will likely boost job creation, salaries and training opportunities, pointing towards an even more promising hiring growth prospects ahead.

For more than 20 years, Monster has been a leading online career and recruitment resource, and with its cutting-edge technology it provides relevant profiles to employers and relevant jobs to jobseekers across industry verticals, experience levels and geographies. Monster today has more than 200 million people registered on the Monster Worldwide network, and with operations in more than 40 countries, provides the widest and most sophisticated job seeking, career management, recruitment and talent management capabilities.

Philippines inks agricultural partnership with Papua New Guinea

The Philippines and Papua New Guinea signed a partnership for agricultural cooperation during the state visit of Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to the Philippines on May 16, 2018.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte received Prime Minister O’Neill in Malacañan Palace, where thy witnessed the signing of of economic partnership to further boost food security in both countries. The Joint Declaration was signed by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol and Hon. Benny Allan, Papua New Guinea Minister for Agriculture and Livestock.

The Joint Declaration signifies the shared commitment of the Philippines and Papua New Guinea to expand and strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation in the field of agriculture and agro-industries, particularly in areas such as rice grains and industrial crops production; aquaculture and inland fish farming; livestock breeding and improvement; and agri-business development.

“We have asked our relevant officials to negotiate and conclude at the soonest possible time an agreement that will bring our bilateral agriculture cooperation to the modern era, one that will truly be transformative and a hallmark of genuine partnership,” President Duterte said.

Along with President Duterte, Prime Minister O’Neill and the Papua New Guinea delegation were greeted by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella, Philippine Ambassador to Papua New Guinea Bienvenido Tejano, and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde.

President Duterte invited Prime Minister O’Neill to visit the Philippines when they met in last year’s APEC Leaders’ Meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam.

“In our bilateral meeting, we extensively discussed defense and security cooperation, trade and investment relations, agriculture cooperation, and people-to-people exchanges,” President Duterte said.

“In the pursuit of greater peace, progress, and prosperity for our peoples, we have realized that we have to do more together to ensure what we want to achieve and the goals reached. There must be translated into actions the sustained projects and tangible results that can be measured,” President Duterte said.

Prime Minister O’Neill said the agriculture cooperation between the Philippines and Papua New Guinea will help ensure food security for both countries.

“We have agreed also to extend the cooperation in technical and development cooperation between our two countries where we want to see the technical skills and capacity of Filipinos who continue to build the economy to a very vibrant economy in the region so that they can also continue to train our people in our country,” Prime Minister O’Neill said.

“We acknowledge that we need to continue to extend our people-to-people relationship and that is an indication of the growing relationship between our two countries and the freedoms and the lawful activities that we continue to enjoy as citizens of both countries,” Prime Minister O’Neill said.

In photo: President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill pose for a photo following the successful bilateral meeting at the Malacañan Palace on May 16, 2018. TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

TRAIN Law fuels PH growth

The Department of Finance (DOF) said the first package of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law provides ample fiscal space for the government to fund programs that support economic growth.

In its Economic Bulletin on GDP, the department said Package 1 of the TRAIN Law will bring in additional resources for the government to finance its Build Build Build Program, as well as greater spending on social services.

“These investments are game-changing in the sense that they catalyze further investments, which, in turn, drive investment-led growth, generate meaningful employment, and subsequently reduce poverty,” the DOF said.

On Thursday, government data showed that gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of 2018 grew by 6.8 percent, led by industry at 7.9 percent, services at 7 percent, and agriculture at 1.5 percent.

The DOF noted that aside from strong household consumption, government consumption was also robust in Q1 2018.

Government consumption increased by 13.6 percent in Q1 2018, a big jump from Q1 2017’s growth of 0.1 percent. This also surpassed household consumption in January to March 2018, which grew by 5.6 percent compared to the same period last year.

Government data also showed that tax revenues increased by 14.3 percent in the first three months of the implementation of the TRAIN Law, higher than the 13.4-percent increment in tax revenues in the same period last year.

The TRAIN Law provides new sources of tax collection for the government, such as excise taxes on oil products, automotive vehicles, and sugar-sweetened beverages.

The additional tax collection is intended for the government’s Build Build Build Program to improve infrastructure and connectivity throughout the archipelago, as well as enhance the quality of the local workforce by investing in human capital development.

“Strong macroeconomic fundamentals, such as strong external position and ample fiscal space, will continue to sustain the momentum for high growth,” the DOF said.

ADB to boost PH growth with infra projects focused on Mindanao

In the 51st Asian Development Bank (ADB) annual meeting with the theme “Linking People and Economies for Inclusive Development,” held in Manila on May 4-6, 2018, the multilateral development bank reaffirmed its commitment to eradicate poverty through achieving inclusive growth in Asia and the Pacific region. ADB announced that it will increase its funding for infrastructure projects in the Philippines while paying special attention to Mindanao.

“We want to invest more in Mindanao. To sustain peace in Mindanao, we need to develop Mindanao in a broader sense. We had a very big road project in Mindanao last year, and we also support transport (development) in Davao,” said ADB President Takehiko Nakao.

The Philippines, touted as one of Asia’s fastest growing economies by ADB, has obtained from ADB a USD380-million loan intended to expand Mindanao’s road network, as well as other key infrastructure projects under its “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.

More than 4,000 delegates from different countries participated in the annual meeting. The delegates included finance ministers and central bank governors of ADB member countries, bankers, representatives from the private sector, civil society, academe, and multilateral institutions.

Among the issues discussed during the meeting were globalization, technology and its impact on jobs and corresponding opportunities, private sector mobilization in funding infrastructure, building climate change resilience, expanding opportunities for women entrepreneurs, and using technology to maximize the skills of aging populations to make development inclusive.

President Rodrigo Duterte said the Asian-Pacific region, including the Philippines, is fast emerging as home to the most vibrant economies in the world. “With the massive infrastructure investments, we expect Mindanao to lead in the nation’s growth. These investments shall be accompanied by intensive efforts and reforms in governance,” President Duterte said during the ADB annual meeting Saturday.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director-General Ernesto Pernia urged ADB to further support the country’s infrastructure program, especially for projects that would address Metro Manila’s traffic problem.

Easing traffic congestion in Metro Manila and other major cities, and rural development are among the priorities in the provision of support for the Philippines under ADB’s Strategy 2030.

“We need to support the Philippines metro areas, how to mitigate these traffic difficulties, and how to support the railway projects, and the LRT (Light Rail Transit) or MRT (Mass Rail Transit),” Nakao said.

There are 12 major infrastructure projects in the pipeline worth USD4.44 billion under the transportation, water utilities and urban infrastructure sub-sectors, or about 65 percent of the total ADB lending portfolio to the Philippines.

Pernia said the ADB is also providing the country USD100-million soft loan for project preparation and facilitation.

The Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program is expected to spend PHP8 trillion over the next five years.

“Many things can be facilitated by infrastructure –mobility of people, connectivity and then access to opportunities. Poverty reduction is greatly helped by infrastructure, employment generation,” Pernia said.

Nakao said the Duterte government has several agenda which are in line with ADB for the Philippines, including rural development, education, and some gender issues to empower women.

ADB extended USD16.5 billion as of February this year to finance 159 developmental projects in Southeast Asia, with the Philippines among its biggest clients cornering 21 percent (USD3.5 billion).

In the meeting, ADB bared its 10 priorities under its Strategy 2030 program, a new long-term strategy to respond to the rapid changes in the Asia-Pacific countries in line with ADB’s commitment to eradicate poverty in the region.

“We will mobilize private sector resources to meet the region’s huge development financing needs. Our private sector operations help fill market gaps and promote private sector participation in infrastructure and other development finance,” Nakao said during a session of the Board of Governors on May 5, 2018.

Nakao noted the ADB would further scale up private sector operations, widen their geographic coverage, including new and frontier markets, and expand operations in social sectors, such as health and education.

“We will also continue to promote the effective use of public-private partnerships. We will enhance resource mobilization through credit enhancement operations and co-financing with bilateral and multilateral partners. We also work with Asia-Pacific countries to build more quality infrastructure and other development projects.” Nakao said.

“ADB will help governments enhance their capacity to prepare, implement, and operate high-quality projects, and we will help raise standards globally for environmental and social safeguards, sound financial management, and anti-corruption,” Nakao said.

In the Philippines, Nakao said it is financing urban mass transport in Manila and Davao City, the railway connecting Malolos and Clark, roads and bridges in Mindanao, and clean water and sanitation projects in local communities.

Nakao cited other priorities in the Strategy 2030, including tackling remaining poverty and increasing inequalities in the Asia and the Pacific through expanded social services; accelerating progress in gender equality; and scaling up support to combat climate change by building climate and disaster resilience and enhancing environmental sustainability.

Strategy 2030 also aims to build livable cities that are competitive, green, resilient, and inclusive; promote rural development and food security; foster regional cooperation and integration; and further strengthen ADB’s role as a provider and facilitator of knowledge.

“We will continue to use our financial resources efficiently and creatively. We will expand our presence on the ground. We will dramatically modernize business processes to speed up our services to clients,” Nakao said.

Finance Secretary and outgoing chairman of the ADB Board of Governors Carlos Dominguez III said the new roadmap could help the ADB to improve its capacity to adapt to the impacts of rapid advances in digital technologies.

“ADB Strategy 2030 is a good beginning. It is not a fully developed program for fully adjusting to the new economic balance of power as well as coping with the enormous forces unleashed by technologies. That program will evolve into place but only if we are prepared to reinvent and rethink,” Dominguez said.

(In photo: ADB President Takehiko Nakao at the opening program of the 51st Asian Development Bank (ADB) annual meeting held in Manila on May 4, 2018)

Construction firms optimistic with PH operation given ‘Build, Build, Build’

US-based firm Caterpillar, Inc. expressed bullishness on its Philippine operation in the construction sector amid the government’s “Build, Build, Build” initiative.

The American construction machinery and equipment provider said the current administration’s massive infrastructure program would give opportunities for the sector.

Caterpillar Global Director for Excavation Division Giacomo Bottone said the company would provide a new line of products to offer to the market.

Caterpillar and Monark Equipment Corp.—the sole authorized dealer of Caterpillar products in the Philippines, launched the next generation CAT 320 Excavator in the Philippine market last April 12.

Bottone said the CAT 320 would help to fast-track construction activities in the country as it can improve operator efficiency by 40 percent, while reducing its fuel consumption by 20 percent and cutting maintenance cost by 15 percent.

Subsequently, Monark President Onofre Banson Jr. is also banking on the Build, Build, Build program, expecting to achieve 10 to 15 percent growth by 2022.

PH secures $9B investments from China – Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte has secured new investments worth $9 billion during his four-day visit to China this month.

This was announced during his arrival in Davao City. The President said this would create at least 10, 000 jobs for Filipinos.

Aside from this, the Philippines and China sealed a deal allowing the employment of 2,000 Filipino English-language teachers starting this year, he said.

“I [underscored] the importance of providing a safe, secure and stable environment in the region’s land [and] waters for economies to thrive. I reiterated the Philippines’ commitment to do more to encourage greater investments into the country,” Duterte said.

“I stressed our emphasis on infrastructure, innovation [and] interconnectivity to drive domestic growth. Most importantly, we received support for the Philippines’ plans for inclusive growth and sustainable development,” he added.

The President also noted China provided a 500-million-renminbi, or P4 billion grant, to the Philippines with no strings attached.

“We have secured so many billions and that 500 renminbi, that is gratis. No, there’s no contract about building a railroad. It’s P4 billion straight, gratis,” Duterte said.

This would be used to establish and rehabilitate hospitals in Mindanao.

“I would suggest hospitals. The first one is I will repair and equip the hospitals in the south, particularly in Jolo and Basilan. They do not have CT (computed tomography) scan, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). And, competent doctors,” Duterte said.

“Now, they can just read it in a machine and the reading of the X-ray can be done in Manila, [by] the experts, and they can transmit or convey there, improve diagnosis if there’s a need…And maybe, I will use [the funds] for medicines. I want to use the funds [on] those that really, really, urgently need them immediately,” Duterte said.