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PH First Country to Achieve Global Extractives Transparency Standard

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The International Board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) announced that the Philippines is the first country to have successfully obtained a ‘satisfactory progress’ assessment under the 2016 EITI Standard.

EITI is a Norway-based international initiative that promotes open and accountable management of extractive industries, including the mining and oil and gas sectors. The 2016 EITI Standard provides a set of requirements for data disclosure or transparency in the industry, from the awarding of licenses and contracts to monitoring production, revenue collection and allocation, as well as socio-economic contribution of the industry. EITI is being implemented worldwide by 52 countries to date, including the Philippines, in a bid to be found compliant with the EITI Standard (i.e., to be given a ‘satisfactory progress’ rating) after a rigorous validation process.

As an implementing country, the Philippines established in 2013 the Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, or PH-EITI, through Executive Order No. 147 issued by then President Benigno Simeon Aquino III. PH-EITI is steered by a multi-stakeholder group chaired by the Department of Finance (DOF) and composed of representatives from government, industry, and civil society.

The Philippines underwent the EITI validation process beginning in January this year. The process culminated in the EITI Board’s decision, placing the country in the historic position of being the first in EITI compliance and serving as a model for other implementing countries.

According to the statement released by the EITI Board, “the Philippines presents a dynamic case of EITI implementation, with its fast-paced and innovative multi-stakeholder group engaging in strategic discussions linking the EITI to national priorities for the extractive sector.” It also said that “EITI has also built trust in a country where the mining sector has often been contentious.”

At the helm of PH-EITI, DOF Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez welcomes the decision, saying: “The forum EITI provides has been indispensable to achieving mutually beneficial collaboration between all stakeholders in the country. With the proper governance framework in place, the extractive industries may do what they do without causing harm. To achieve that, they must be transparent and the communities ever watchful. I trust that the international recognition we have received will further spur our nation to build institutions of accountability and enterprises that are better able to serve the common good.”

At present, there are legislative bills filed in the House and in the Senate to institutionalize the PH-EITI.

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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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