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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

Improving Access And Financial Literacy Are Key To Financial Inclusion In PH—PIDS Study

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Improving financial literacy and broadening access to financial institutions like banks and insurance companies, especially in the rural areas, are key to achieving financial inclusion in the country.

This was according to a study by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) on factors affecting financial inclusion in the Philippines. The research showed that more educated individuals living in urban areas, wherein most financial institutions like banks are situated, are more likely to have savings and insurance than their less educated counterparts in the rural areas.

The World Bank defines financial inclusion as a situation where people and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs. Financial products and services include payments, savings, credit, and insurance.

Authors Gilberto Llanto and Maureen Ane Rosellon, PIDS president and research associate, respectively, emphasized that access to finance allows the poor to accumulate assets like savings and insurance to protect them from potential risks and shocks, and to invest in income-generating activities.

However, access to financial products and services remains a big challenge in the Philippines as shown in the latest data of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas(BSP). According to BSP, only about 43 percent of Filipino adults have bank savings while 72 percent of those who borrow, transact with informal financial institutions. Also, only about 30 percent of small and medium enterprises have formal lines of credit and/or bank loans.

One of the main factors that limits people’s access to formal financial institutions, according to Llanto and Rosellon, is their remote location in the rural areas. “For example, data on bank network vis-à-vis population on a regional level indicate a great difference between urban areas like the National Capital Region (ARMM) and highly rural regions like the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM),” they explained. Citing statistics from BSP, they noted that the number of banks per 10,000 adults in the NCR is estimated at 3.6 in 2010 and 2015 compared to only one bank per 100,000 adults in ARMM for the same period.

“Due to the absence of banks, people would usually just keep their money at home or join informal group savings in the community, such as rotating savings and credit associations locally called “paluwagan”, the authors concluded.

Also, data from BSP show that majority of adults (about 70%) find pawnshops as the nearest and easiest to reach among financial products and service providers. Likewise, nonstock savings and loan associations, payment centers, and remittance agents take the shortest time to reach at 17 to 18 minutes. The cost of a round-trip travel to these establishments is also the lowest, at PHP 31 to PHP 37.

Llanto and Rosellon said the first step to encourage people to access banks and other formal financial institutions is to improve people’s education. “A higher level of education increases the likelihood of saving and borrowing from a formal financial institution. Educational attainment can be an indicator of the knowledge and level of understanding of credit options and opportunities, and confidence to apply for a loan,” they pointed out.

Furthermore, the authors highlighted the importance of looking at potential barriers to access, which includes, among others, cost or proximity to providers of financial services.

Meanwhile, banks have recently introduced electronic banking (e-banking) to the market as a proper response to global innovations in banking. According to the study, e-banking has started to penetrate “unbanked” markets. Still, poor people in far-flung areas are unable to access this technology as it requires suitable electronic devices and strong Internet connection.

“Although mobile financial services have taken a foothold in the financial markets, the majority of retail transactions by individuals and businesses in the Philippines are still done in cash,” the authors stated. They cited a 2015 report by Better Than Cash Alliance showing that only 1 percent of the 2.5 billion retail payments per month in the country were done electronically.

This press release is based on the PIDS discussion paper titled “What Determines Financial Inclusion in the Philippines? Evidence from a National Baseline Survey”.

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BSP Sees 3.4-4% Inflation for January

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Higher oil and commodity prices are seen as upside risks for Philippines’ inflation rate in January 2018 and bring the rate between 3.5 and four percent.

In a statement, the central bank said its Department of Economic Research considered the impact of higher fuel prices overseas and weather-related disturbances in the country as factors that would push up prices.

“In addition, higher excise taxes on fuel, sugar sweetened beverages with the implementation of the TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) this month, would lead to additional upward price pressures,” it said, referring to the first package of the tax reform program that is being implemented starting Jan. 1 this year.

“The increase in prices could be partly offset by lower electricity rates in Meralco-serviced areas for the month,” it added.

The government has a two to four percent inflation target for 2017-19.

Last year, inflation averaged at 3.2 percent, higher than year-ago’s 1.8 percent rate but still within the government’s target range.

Last December alone, inflation was flat at 3.3 percent but higher than year-ago’s 2.6 percent.

Philippine monetary officials forecast this year’s inflation to average at 3.4 percent.

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Improving Access and Financial Literacy Are Key to Financial Inclusion in PH—PIDS Study

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Image Source: lawyer24h.net

Improving financial literacy and broadening access to financial institutions like banks and insurance companies, especially in the rural areas, are key to achieving financial inclusion in the country.

This was according to a study by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) on factors affecting financial inclusion in the Philippines. The research showed that more educated individuals living in urban areas, wherein most financial institutions like banks are situated, are more likely to have savings and insurance than their less educated counterparts in the rural areas.

The World Bank defines financial inclusion as a situation where people and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs. Financial products and services include payments, savings, credit, and insurance.

Authors Gilberto Llanto and Maureen Ane Rosellon, PIDS president and research associate, respectively, emphasized that access to finance allows the poor to accumulate assets like savings and insurance to protect them from potential risks and shocks, and to invest in income-generating activities.

However, access to financial products and services remains a big challenge in the Philippines as shown in the latest data of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas(BSP). According to BSP, only about 43 percent of Filipino adults have bank savings while 72 percent of those who borrow, transact with informal financial institutions. Also, only about 30 percent of small and medium enterprises have formal lines of credit and/or bank loans.

One of the main factors that limits people’s access to formal financial institutions, according to Llanto and Rosellon, is their remote location in the rural areas.

“For example, data on bank network vis-à-vis population on a regional level indicate a great difference between urban areas like the National Capital Region (ARMM) and highly rural regions like the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM),” they explained.

Citing statistics from BSP, they noted that the number of banks per 10,000 adults in the NCR is estimated at 3.6 in 2010 and 2015 compared to only one bank per 100,000 adults in ARMM for the same period.

“Due to the absence of banks, people would usually just keep their money at home or join informal group savings in the community, such as rotating savings and credit associations locally called “paluwagan”, the authors concluded.

Also, data from BSP show that majority of adults (about 70%) find pawnshops as the nearest and easiest to reach among financial products and service providers. Likewise, nonstock savings and loan associations, payment centers, and remittance agents take the shortest time to reach at 17 to 18 minutes. The cost of a round-trip travel to these establishments is also the lowest, at Php 31 to Php 37.

Llanto and Rosellon said the first step to encourage people to access banks and other formal financial institutions is to improve people’s education. “A higher level of education increases the likelihood of saving and borrowing from a formal financial institution. Educational attainment can be an indicator of the knowledge and level of understanding of credit options and opportunities, and confidence to apply for a loan,” they pointed out.

Furthermore, the authors highlighted the importance of looking at potential barriers to access, which includes, among others, cost or proximity to providers of financial services.

Meanwhile, banks have recently introduced electronic banking (e-banking) to the market as a proper response to global innovations in banking. According to the study, e-banking has started to penetrate “unbanked” markets. Still, poor people in far-flung areas are unable to access this technology as it requires suitable electronic devices and strong Internet connection.

“Although mobile financial services have taken a foothold in the financial markets, the majority of retail transactions by individuals and businesses in the Philippines are still done in cash,” the authors stated.

They cited a 2015 report by Better Than Cash Alliance showing that only 1 percent of the 2.5 billion retail payments per month in the country were done electronically.

www.pids.gov.ph

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Economy

BMI Research Forecasts Sustained 6% Level Growth for Philippines

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The research subsidiary of Fitch Group projects the sustained robust expansion of the Philippine economy on back of the government’s infrastructure program, favorable demographics and increased trade with China.

BMI Research eyes a 6.3 percent growth in 2018 and 6.2 percent in 2019 – – levels that the research entity considers “respectable.

These are lower than the 6.7 percent output, as measured by gross domestic product (GPD), that the economy posted in 2017.

“We emphasize that the 6+% GDP expansion is still strong by regional and historical standards and this will be supported by positive demographic trends, a strong public infrastructure drive, and deepening economic cooperation with China,” the study said.

However, BMI Research cited as risk to growth the deteriorating business environment, citing that the seven percent growth in the third quarter of 2017 will “unlikely to continue as leading financial market indicators were showing signs of fatigue while the business environment has been deteriorating.”

This deterioration, it said, is expected to hamper further improvement on private sector investment in the next quarters.

It noted that growth of fixed capital formation declined to 10.3 percent in 2017 from year-ago’s 25.2 percent, with construction rising only by 5.7 percent from 2016’s 15.1 percent and durable equipment by 12.2 percent from year-ago’s 34.5 percent.

Amidst these risks, BMI Research remains optimistic on the domestic economy’s growth, which is expected to get additional lift from the tax reform program, the first package of which is for implementation starting January this year.

Package 1 of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law cuts personal income tax in the country, making workers’ first Php250,000 annual income tax free. Impact of this on government revenues will be countered by excise tax hikes on fuel and sugar-sweetened beverages, among others.

The first tax reform package is estimated to generate around Php82.3 billion additional revenues for this year alone, and this, the study said, is a plus on the government’s program to increase infrastructure investment.

“This will likely go some way in improving the country’s poor infrastructure, which has long prevented the Philippines from reaching its growth potential,” it added.

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