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Citi keeps Philippine growth forecasts despite Q1 slump

Global banking giant Citi is retaining its economic growth forecasts for the Philippines even as the recession extended into the first quarter......»»

Category: financeSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 27th, 2021

Journos turn creative as economic woes hit newsrooms

“Media freedom is not an isolated element,” Bangladeshi lawyer Irene Khan, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said. “Freedom of expression has to be seen in the context of freedom of association and freedom of assembly. Civil society and media freedom are absolutely integrated.” The post Journos turn creative as economic woes hit newsrooms appeared first on Bulatlat......»»

Category: newsSource:  bulatlatRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2021

Beijing gears up for 2035

We’ve been fortunate to have visited China five times since 2016 and seen first-hand the progress it has made in various areas of economic development. But how will China look like, say, in 10 to 15 years? What will be the main thrusts of its economic development in the next five years and until 2035? Is the goal to overtake the US and become the world’s largest economy by 2035?.....»»

Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsMar 24th, 2021

Palawan& rsquo;s Samantha Bernardo guns for PH& rsquo;s first Miss Grand International crown

After finishing 2nd runner-up for two consecutive years at the Binibining Pilipinas 2018 and 2019 search, Samantha Bernardo has been finally selected as the Philippines’ representative in the 8th Miss Grand International pageant happening in Bangkok, Thailand on March 27......»»

Category: entertainmentSource:  thestandardRelated NewsFeb 8th, 2021

China to donate 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to PH — Palace

Malacañang said Saturday that the Chinese government will donate 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines as the two countries reaffirmed ties and cooperation against the pandemic. Chinese State Counselor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (DFA OFFICIAL TWITTER ACCOUNT/ MANILA BULLETIN) The Office of the President (OP) made the statement as Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi made a 40-minute courtesy call to President Duterte in Malacañang Saturday. In a statement, the OP said that Wang assured Duterte of China’s commitment to support the Philippines’ efforts to combat COVID-19, a disease that originated in Wuhan, China. “He (Wang) announced that China will donate 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to the Philippines. He likewise affirmed China’s resolve to do everything to ensure that vaccines become a global good,” Malacañang said. According to Malacañang, Duterte lauded the continued high-level engagement between the Philippines and China even amid the pandemic and stressed the importance of both sides delivering on the promises of the Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation. Duterte stressed that cooperation on public health must be strengthened, particularly access to safe and effective vaccines, to safeguard the health of the people and in order to hasten the economic recovery of both nations and their neighboring countries. “The recovery of nations… sits on the back of stronger economies,” Duterte told Wang. “China plays a very key role in reviving our region’s economy. Let us do all we can to revive economic activities between the Philippines and China,” he added. Malacañang said that Duterte thanked China for its continuing support and cooperation in the country’s fight against COVID-19 in terms of medical equipment and supplies and sharing of experiences and expertise as well as in the repatriation of Filipinos. Economic cooperation Wang declared that China will continue to support the Philippines’ recovery through enhanced economic cooperation. He likewise reiterated his country’s determination to complete pending infrastructure projects. The Palace said that Wang underscored China’s commitment under President Xi Jinping to work closely with the Philippines to sustain the positive trajectory of the valued and special bilateral relations. At the start of his presidency in 2016, Duterte has expressed his desire to build stronger relations with China — even temporarily setting aside the country’s victory over the West Philippine Sea in The Hague to make it happen......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsJan 17th, 2021

Pacquiao bats for creation of ecozone in Sarangani

Pacquiao, who used to represent the province in the lower chamber before winning a Senate seat in the 2016 elections, on Wednesday filed Senate Bill No. 1957, or the Sarangani Special Economic Zone and Freeport Act......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 18th, 2020

Government downgrades economic forecasts for 2020

Economic managers further revised their forecasts downward this year as the prolonged community quarantine measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic continue to take a heavy toll on economic performance......»»

Category: financeSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 4th, 2020

No Changes in ’20, ’21 PH GDP Forecasts: S& P Global

No changes will be made in the GDP forecast of S&P Global for the Philippines in 2020 and 2021 as they note the impact of recent natural phenomena such as typhoons has hindered further any chance of economic recovery brought about by the improved workforce mobilization, along with better employment as the government continues to […].....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 2nd, 2020

GDP forecasts trimmed after Q3 data

Foreign and local analysts further slashed their Philippine economic growth expectations for this year, a day after the government announced that the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 10 percent in the first three quarters of the year. Revised GDP forecasts provided by Fitch Solutions, Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), Capital Economics, ING […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsNov 12th, 2020

Shared history will see PH-US relations through — solon

The long and amiable history between the Philippines and the United States will have a bearing in the prospective relationship between President Duterte and US President-elect Joe Biden. (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO) Kabayan Party-List Rep. Ron Salo on Thursdaysaid that both leaders “have the primordial interests of their respective countries and their people.” “I am confident that the Philippines and the US will have a robust and dynamic relationship under US President-elect Biden. The US and the Philippines have a shared history and long diplomatic ties,” said the former University of the Philippines (UP) law professor. Philippine-US relations as they appear today were arguably forged and tempered through the nations’ shared experiences in World War II nearly 80 years ago. The Americans were instrumental in liberating Filipinos from occupying Japanese forces in 1945. The aftermath of the war saw the signing of a Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the two nations on August 30, 1951, in Washington, DC. Americans have consistently been viewed in high regard by Filipinos compared to other nationalities, as per surveys. Meanwhile, there are said to be 4.1 million Filipino Americans in the US as of 2018, according to the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) figures. “There are many Filipinos in America as well as Americans of Filipino heritage who continue to contribute in shaping American life, culture, and consciousness. Filipinos also remain to be American’s brown brothers in this part of the globe,” Salo said. “Certainly, it is to the interests of both countries to maintain a strong diplomatic relation,” added the lawyer-congressman. Some observers are waiting how the dynamics between Duterte and Biden would turn out. This is mostly due to Duterte’s critical stance on the US government when Barack Obama was still the American president. Biden, a seasoned diplomat, served as Obama’s vice president from 2008 to 2016......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsNov 12th, 2020

PH economy seen improving further in Q4

RCBC chief economist Michael Ricafort MANILA – An improvement in economic performance is expected to continue even if it remains in contraction in the fourth quarter of 2020 while positive growth can start only next year. In a virtual briefing Tuesday, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) chief economist Michael Ricafort said he forecasts the fourth-quarter […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  balitaRelated NewsNov 10th, 2020

Maynilad, MWC shelve rate adjustments for 2021

Maynilad Water Services, Inc. (Maynilad) and Manila Water Company, Inc. are forgoing some water rate increases they are qualified to implement in the coming year, including the next tranche of the rate rebasing adjustment as well as the mandated Consumer Price Index (CPI) adjustment.  This was announced separately by both companies on Tuesday. In a text message, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Chief Regulator Patrick Ty said the MWSS-Regulatory Office (MWSS-RO) has been discussing this matter with both Maynilad and Manila Water since the start of this year. “We just received the proposals of the two Concessionaires and we are currently evaluating them,” Ty said.  In a statement, Maynilad said that with this deferral, the company “hopes to alleviate the day-to-day struggles of its customers as they and the whole country strive to recover from adversity and rise stronger than before, ready to start anew”. “During these difficult times when no one is spared the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Maynilad is one with the government in finding ways to help our countrymen make the situation more manageable,” it also said. Manila Water, on the other hand, said “in the spirit of Bayanihan and to alleviate the plight of our customers due to the pandemic, Manila Water will not be implementing the rate adjustment in 2021 under the approved 2018 Rate Rebasing.” Done every five years, rate rebasing is review of water utilities’ past performance and the projection on their future cash flows.  It is supposed to set the water rates at a level that would allow both Maynilad and Manila Water to recover their expenditures and earn a rate of return. For 2020, Maynilad and Manila Water also volunteered to defer the implementation of the next tranche of annual rate hike approved under the current rate rebasing period, which started in 2018.  Their decision came as both companies were being scrutinized by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte for their allegedly onerous contracts with MWSS. To be implemented in tranches from 2018 to 2022, the approved increase in Maynilad’s rates under the fifth rate rebasing period would be P5.73 per cubic meter (/cu. m.). For this year, it was supposed to increase its rates by P1.95/cu.m, then another P1.95/cu.m in 2021.    As for Manila Water, the increase in its rates under rate rebasing would play around P6.22 to P6.55/cu.m.  This year, it was supposed to increase its rates by P2/cu.m, and another P2/cu.m by 2021.  By 2022, depending on the medium-term water sources project that the company will be allowed to pursue, the Ayala-led firm could charge its customers an increase of P0.76/cu.m up to P1.04/cu.m. The CPI adjustment, on the other hand, is the annual inflation adjustment and takes place every January. Maynilad is the largest private water concessionaire in the Philippines in terms of customer base.  It is the agent and contractor of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) for the West Zone of the Greater Manila Area, which is composed of the cities of Manila (certain portions), Quezon City (certain portions), Makati (west of South Super Highway), Caloocan, Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Valenzuela, Navotas and Malabon all in Metro Manila; the cities of Cavite, Bacoor and Imus, and the towns of Kawit, Noveleta and Rosario, all in Cavite Province.  Meanwhile, Manila Water caters to the East Zone concession area covering the Cities of Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig, Pateros, San Juan, Taguig and Marikina. It is also in charge of the southeastern parts of Quezon City, and Sta. Ana and San Andres in Manila. In the Province of Rizal, MWCI services the City of Antipolo and Municipalities of San Mateo, Rodriguez, Cainta, Taytay, Teresa, Angono, Baras, Binangonan, and Jala-jala......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2020

US votes on Trump’s fate under threat of election turmoil

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Americans vote Tuesday in an election amounting to a referendum on Donald Trump and his uniquely brash, bruising presidency that Democratic opponent and frontrunner Joe Biden urged supporters to end, restoring “our democracy.” US President Donald Trump leaves after speaking during a Make America Great Again rally at Fayetteville Regional Airport November 2, 2020, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. – The US presidential campaign enters its final day Monday with a last-minute scramble for votes by Donald Trump and Joe Biden, drawing to a close an extraordinary race that has put a pandemic-stricken country on edge. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) The United States is more divided and angry than at any time since the Vietnam War era of the 1970s — and fears that Trump could dispute the result of the election are only fueling those tensions. Despite an often startlingly laid-back campaign, Biden, 77, leads in almost every opinion poll, buoyed by his consistent message that America needs to restore its “soul” and get new leadership in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 231,000 people. “I have a feeling we’re coming together for a big win tomorrow,” Biden said in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a vital electoral battleground where he was joined by pop superstar Lady Gaga. “It’s time to stand up and take back our democracy.” But Trump was characteristically defiant to the end, campaigning at a frenetic pace with crowded rallies in four states on Monday, and repeating his dark, unprecedented claims for a US president that the polls risk being rigged against him. After almost non-stop speeches in a final three-day sprint, he ended up in the early hours of Tuesday in Grand Rapids, Michigan — the same place where he concluded his epic against-the-odds campaign in 2016 where he defeated apparent frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Despite the bad poll numbers, the 74-year-old Republican real estate tycoon counted on pulling off another upset. “We’re going to have another beautiful victory tomorrow,” he told the Michigan crowd, which chanted back: “We love you, we love you!” “We’re going to make history once again,” he said. Packing Trump’s bags While Tuesday is formally Election Day, in reality Americans have been voting for weeks. With a huge expansion in mail-in voting to safeguard against the Covid-19 pandemic, nearly 100 million people have already made their choice. Biden has the wind in his sails after indications that Democratic enthusiasm in the early voting may be matching the more visible energy at Trump’s impressive rallies. In one of US history’s great political gambles, Biden stuck to socially distanced gatherings with small crowds right up to the last moment, in stunning contrast to Trump’s constant, large rallies where few supporters so much as bothered with masks. But the Democrat, making his third attempt at the presidency, clearly senses that his calmer approach and strict attention to pandemic protocols is what Americans want after four tempestuous years. “It’s time for Donald Trump to pack his bags and go home,” Biden told supporters in Cleveland. “We’re done with the chaos! We’re done with the tweets, the anger, the hate, the failure, the irresponsibility.” In chilly downtown Pittsburgh, Justine Wolff said she had cast her ballot for Biden already and was cautiously hopeful he would carry Pennsylvania, which along with Florida may be the tightest of all the swing states that decide close national elections. “I hope that people have seen the writing on the wall,” said the 35-year-old nurse. “We need some kind of change because this isn’t working for anybody.” But where many early votes are believed to have been cast by Democrats, Trump’s side is hoping for a massive wave of Republican supporters voting in person on Tuesday. “Whether he wins or loses, this is history,” said Kolleen Wall, who turned out to cheer Trump in Grand Rapids. But “when you come to one of these rallies, all you think is, how could he not win?” The first polling stations opening were in two New Hampshire villages, Dixville Notch and Millsfield, starting at midnight. Most polling stations on the East Coast were to open at 6:00 am or 7:00 am (1100 or 1200 GMT). A tiny hamlet of 12 residents in the middle of the forest, near the Canadian border, Dixville Notch has traditionally voted “first in the nation” since 1960. The vote took minutes, as did the count: five votes for Biden, and none for Trump. Warning of violence Trump himself is planning to visit his campaign headquarters in Virginia on Tuesday, while Biden will travel to his birthplace of Scranton, the scrappy Pennsylvania town where Trump also visited on Monday. There are worries that if the election is close, extended legal chaos and perhaps violent unrest could ensue — not least because Trump has spent months trying to sap public trust in the voting process in a nation already bitterly divided along political fault lines. He ramped up these warnings in the final days, focusing especially on Pennsylvania’s rule allowing absentee ballots received within three days after Tuesday to be counted. In a tweet flagged with a warning label by Twitter on Monday, he said this would “allow rampant and unchecked cheating.” “It will also induce violence in the streets. Something must be done!” Trump tweeted......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2020

Biden knocks Trump as rivals barnstorm heartland in election finale

Joe Biden intensified his attacks Friday on President Donald Trump as they battled over the American Midwest, chasing every last vote with four days to go in a region that propelled the Republican to victory in 2016. RUS President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Rochester International Airport October 30, 2020 in Rochester, Minnesota. With Election Day only four days away, Trump is campaigning in Minnesota despite the recent surge in coronavirus cases in the state. In accordance with state orders, only 250 people will be able to attend the rally with Trump while thousands of others will gather outside the airport to watch on a large television screen. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP) Trump and Biden barnstormed three heartland states each — with a resurgent coronavirus passing the milestone of nine million cases as they hit the stump — highlighting their differences in a race overshadowed by the pandemic. Trump, heralded a “big day” of campaigning as he left the White House, then held a rally in Michigan before heading to Wisconsin and Minnesota, all states battling climbing numbers of virus cases. “We just want normal,” Trump told supporters — many of them unmasked — at an outdoor rally near Detroit as he pushed states to relax public health restrictions and resume daily life. He again bucked his own administration’s health experts as he downplayed the Covid-19 threat, saying “if you get it, you’re going to get better, and then you’re going to be immune.” Covid-19 has killed nearly 230,000 people in the US, which is experiencing surges in most states as the winter flu season looms. The outbreak has ravaged the economy, and while there have been signs of recovery, millions remain jobless. Biden was also stumping in Wisconsin and in Minnesota, where he sharpened his attacks on the president on everything from Trump seeking to dismantle Obama-era health care protections and keep his taxes secret to climate change and trade policy with China. “We can not afford four more years of Donald Trump,” the 77-year-old Democrat said at a socially distanced drive-in rally in St. Paul, Minnesota. “So honk your horn if you want America to lead again!” he said, embracing the awkward pandemic-era campaign trend of rallying supporters in their vehicles. “Honk your horn if you want to have civility again, and honk your horn if you want America to be united again!” Earlier in Iowa he attacker Trump over his handling of the pandemic. “Donald Trump has given up (and) waved the white flag,” Biden told a drive-in rally with more than 300 cars in Des Moines. – ‘Less divided’ – Trump flipped Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin from the Democrats to clinch his shock victory four years ago.  Now polls show Biden leading in all three, albeit narrowly in Iowa. It was Biden’s first visit to Iowa since his inauspicious campaign start in February, when he placed a dismal fourth in the opening Democratic nominating contest. So can Biden win over enough voters to prevail in the Hawkeye State? “I wouldn’t put money on it,” Iowa attorney Sara Riley, 61, said at Biden’s event, although she was more confident about him clinching the White House. “I think Americans, even Trump supporters, want to get to a place where the country is less divided,” Riley said. With voters concerned about the health hazards of crowded polling stations on November 3, a record 86 million have already cast early ballots by mail or in person. Even as the US hit a grim new high in daily Covid-19 infections Thursday, Trump has stuck to his guns, downplaying the dangers and branding Democrats as rampaging “socialists” intent on shuttering the country. And while Trump has touted the economic successes of his presidency, including positive GDP figures Thursday, US stocks closed out their worst week since March, highlighting concerns about a shaky recovery. – ‘Turn Texas blue?’ – After a campaign largely muted by the pandemic, Biden is on the offensive, pushing Trump onto the back foot in unexpected battlegrounds like Texas, a large, traditionally conservative bastion now rated a toss-up by multiple analysts. On Friday the state reported that a staggering nine million residents had already voted, surpassing its entire 2016 total. Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris visited Texas Friday in a bid to turn the state Democratic for the first time since president Jimmy Carter in 1976. “We have a chance to turn Texas blue,” the 96-year-old Carter said in a fundraising email. Biden winning there would be a dagger to Trump, but the president dismissed the notion, saying: “Texas, we’re doing very well.” Trump and Biden are focusing their greatest efforts on traditional battlegrounds that will decide the election — such as Florida, where both campaigned on Thursday. On Saturday Biden returns to the Midwest bringing with him perhaps his strongest surrogate: ex-president Barack Obama, making his first joint in-person campaign appearance of the year with his former VP. Motown music legend Stevie Wonder will join them, the Biden campaign said. Trump will spend the day campaigning in the critical state of Pennsylvania, where he narrowly trails Biden in polls. Biden will follow suit there both Sunday and Monday in a clear sign that his campaign sees the Keystone State as absolutely crucial to his victory......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 31st, 2020

Higher WB classification versus loss of ODA

The managers of this country’s economy doubtless are aware of the disconnect between the government’s quest to have the World Bank classify the Philippines as an upper middle-income country and President Duterte’s 2018 directive prohibiting Philippine government acceptance of official development assistance from the world’s donor countries, which are members of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development)......»»

Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsOct 30th, 2020

Duterte urged to allow seniors up to 70 to go out

Alarmed that three out of 10 Filipino elderly suffer from depression, Senior Citizen partylist Rep. Rodolfo “Ompong” Ordanes has appealed to President Duterte to include senior citizens up to 70-years-old in the list of persons who can go out. The lawmaker sought the expansion of the coverage of the lifting of age-based stay-at-home restrictions and other benefits as provided by Resolution No. 79-2020 issued by Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF). Under the IATF resolution, those aged 15 to 65 are allowed to go out. “Mr. President, I respectfully recommend that the coverage of the lifting of age-based stay-at-home restrictions and other benefits provided by IATF Resolution No. 79-2020 be expanded to include senior citizens up to the age of 70-years-old, instead of the proposed age of up to 65-years-old,” Ordanes said in a letter to President Duterte dated Oct. 21. “It is this representative’s humble opinion that expanding the coverage of IATF Resolution No. 79 to include senior citizens up to the age of 70-years-old will help alleviate the social and economic difficulties that our 2.5 million senior citizens face due to COVID-19,” he explained. He expressed hope that his request be granted by Duterte by December. Ordanes noted that studies show that there is minimal risk in expanding the coverage of the IATF resolution, given the global decline of case fatality rates among the elderly. There is a minimal difference between the Infection Fatality Rates of those within the age of 65 and those within the age of 70, he said. “If the coverage of the resolution is expanded, 2.5 million of our senior citizens will be lifted out of depression which three out of 10 of our elderly suffer from today, as they will be allowed to engage again in social activities and be taken out of social isolation,” Ordanes said. He said by expanding the coverage of the IATF resolution, the government is economically empowering the elderly up to 70 years , as they are allowed to participate again in economic activities. “Mr. President, an expansion of the coverage of the IATF Resolution No. 79-2020 will pose minute differences from the overall risk that our senior citizen population is facing due to COVID-19. Comparatively, once the coverage is expanded, 2.5 million of our senior citizens will enjoy economic and social upliftment in their lives and welfare,” he said. “Thus, I respectfully ask for your consideration in increasing the exemptions to stay-at-home restrictions imposed on senior citizens up to the age of 70-years-old.”.....»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 24th, 2020

Davao Region GRDP shrinks in 2019

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 23 October) — The gross regional domestic product (GRDP) of Davao Region decreased to 7 percent in 2019 from 8.6 percent reported for the entire year of 2018, according to the data released by the Philippines Statistics Authority. Despite the deceleration, the region’s economic performance remained one of the strongest in the […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanewsRelated NewsOct 23rd, 2020

House version of 2021 budget ready for Senate submission

"We don't want a reenactment of the 2018 budget. There is a huge penalty for that, and we need to fight the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic," a lawmaker said. .....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsOct 19th, 2020

Latin America to bear worst impact from coronavirus: World Bank

Latin America and the Caribbean will suffer the worst economic and health impact from the coronavirus, the World Bank said Friday, forecasting a nearly 8.0 percent drop in regional GDP. “Our region is suffering the worst economic and health impacts of Covid-19 of anywhere in the world,” according to Carlos Felipe Jaramillo, the Bank’s regional vice president. He said the findings in the report “calls for clarity on how to combat the pandemic and put the economies back on track for a swift recovery.”  In its report, “The Cost of Staying Healthy” the Bank addresses the impact of the pandemic in a region with with high Covid-19 mortality and infection rates such as Brazil, Mexico and Peru. “The number of deaths per million people is as high as in advanced economies, if not more, but the resources available to counter the shock are much more constrained,” it said.  The bank forecasts a recovery with growth of 4.0 percent in 2021. The report forecasts a region-wide 7.9 percent drop in GDP, a slightly more negative outlook for 2020 than its last assessment in June of a likely 7.2 percent contraction. Crisis-wracked Venezuela — in acute recession for several years and with a government that at least 50 countries refuse to recognize — is not taken into account in the figures. The Covid-related economic crisis follows “several years of disappointing economic growth and limited progress on social indicators, and right after a wave of social unrest,” the report said. “The social damage is immense” the institution warned, adding that unemployment rates had soared across the region, “sometimes substantially.”  Surveys conducted in 13 countries in the region showed that the share of households suffering a decline in income is higher than the share experiencing job losses, it said. The findings suggest that “the impact of the crisis is not only severe but also potentially long-lasting.”.....»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 9th, 2020

Christmas 2020 for workers and farmers

HOTSPOT Tonyo Cruz Two things workers are looking forward to at the end of each year are the 13th month pay and the Christmas bonus. And it seems about two million workers may not get any 13th month pay at all, if the Duterte government would have its way. The reason? Because of the pandemic. In reaction, Kilusang Mayo Uno chairperson Elmer Labog  issued his shortest statement yet this year, unable to hide labor’s frustration: “It is the government’s responsibility to bail out MSMEs in times of emergencies.” Indeed, it is the state’s obligation to support and prop up micro, small and medium-scale enterprises especially now in the time of pandemic. By saying MSMEs could dispense with the 13th month pay, the government is practically passing on its responsibility to MSMEs. Workers continue to give their share through the cheap, underpaid and overstressed labor power that makes sure MSMEs continue to function and perform their role as main engines of the economy. The government must do its job: Bail out the MSMEs. It is quite surprising that the Duterte government seems disinterested in bailing out MSMEs, considering the avalanche of news about the borrowings here and there. According to Sonny Africa, executive director of the think-tank Ibon Foundation, the borrowings has reached a historic high: “It took 118 years for the country’s debt to reach P6.1-trillion in 2016. President Duterte is taking just six years to more than than double that to P13.7-trillion in 2022.” Again, the reason for the borrowing has been “because of the pandemic.” Regardless of where the money goes, and whether or not MSMEs and workers received only a drop from it, they would pay the entire debt through more and higher taxes for years to come. Workers are not asking for something they have not earned through hard work. They earned that 13th month pay. It is not an optional thing. It is part of the law. The pandemic should oblige the state to bail out our MSMEs to enable them to fully function, and to give the workers’ their due under the law. Workers have given and lost a lot because of the pandemic. Workers have not asked for free rides to work, but the government fails to provide adequate and safe mass transport. Workers have asked for free mass testing in their companies and communities, but the government has other ideas. Workers and their families would have fared better with unemployment benefits amid the dismal pandemic response of government, but it seems the same government wishes to push them instead to pawnshops and loan sharks. We haven’t even factored in the laid-off, underemployed and unemployed workers, as well as the undetermined number of overseas Filipino healthcare workers stranded in the country since April. They all don’t wish to be “patay-gutom” and “pala-asa”.  They don’t wish to stay unemployed and be dependent on aid. They are ready to work and earn their keep. But since the president made policy decisions affecting their ability to obtain work, it is the government’s obligation to bail them out as well. The situation of our nation’s farmers is no different. For instance, rice farmers continue to produce our national staple. The pandemic made even worse the effects on them of the combined power of policies such as rice tarrification, the stranglehold of Big Landlords, the vast influence of rice cartels, and the continued operation of illegal rice importers. Price monitoring by Bantay Bigas and the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas reveals the outrageously low palay prices nationwide, which means ruin to our nation’s rice farmers: Negros Occidental and Bicol region P10; Capiz P10-P11; Caraga P11; Tarlac P11-12; Ilocos Sur and Nueva Ecija P11-13; Camarines Sur P11.50-14; Bulacan and Mindoro P12; Isabela P12-P13.50; Pangasinan P12-P12.30; Antique P12.50; Agusan del Sur P13; Davao de Oro P13.14; Davao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and South Cotabato P13.50; North Cotabato P14; and Lanao del Norte P15. If you look at it, plantitos and plantitas today pay 20 to 50 times more for ornamental plants, compared to the prices traders and the NFA offer to our farmers. According to Bantay Bigas and KMP, the government procures way less than 20 percent of the produce of rice farmers.  And then we hear that the NFA would rather import rice from other countries, at pandemic-affected prices at that. Without any state intervention, by way of NFA buying rice farmers’ produce at P20 per kilo, and providing loans to farmers, there could be worse rural poverty in the coming months and years. Between our workers and farmers, their families have been made to sacrifice a lot since March, with prices of basic goods spiking, with new and higher expenses arising from online classes for the children. There cannot be no aid for them.  Neither should workers and farmers shoulder the burden of the failure or refusal of government to provide funding for bailouts sorely needed by MSMEs, and be forced to accept new national debts to pay for policies such as rice tarrification and importation. The government knows the scale of the problem. The Department of Labor and Employment says 13,127 companies have either laid off workers or permanently closed. The response cannot be “pass the burden to workers”. The answer should be: “the state must do everything to rescue the companies and the workers.” OFWs across the world should be familiar with bailouts and economic protections because of the pandemic. Many countries that host OFWs enacted huge bailouts and stimulus to their economies, partly so that migrant labor could continue to be employed. They enjoy health insurance, and special COVID19 coverage. Governments handed out checks to both citizens and companies. Is it too much to ask that the same be done in our own country? Or do Filipinos have to go abroad to experience such social and economic protections?.....»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 9th, 2020