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Economic Lessons From 2011

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The Philippines slipped into another economic downturn in 2011. Adverse global trends are a factor with the world economy three years into what is going to be a protracted global depression. More significant however is the absence of bold domestic economic policy initiatives that tackle the country’s internal weaknesses and, in so doing, also reduce its vulnerability to external shocks.

The past year gives at least three insights to inform economic policy-making not just in 2012 but in the coming period of great challenges for Philippine growth and real development.

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Amb. Cuisia Pitches PPP Projects To Investors

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WASHINGTON, D.C.— As President Benigno S. Aquino III was inviting potential investors at the Philippine Investment Forum 2013 on Tuesday, March 12, Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. did his pitch as well to shore up investor’s support in the government’s push for pubic-private partnership projects at a forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

“The Philippine government remains committed to driving infrastructure development as it recognizes its importance to future rapid and sustainable economic growth,” the ambassador told potential investors on Monday, March 11, 2013.

In his presentation “Philippines: Opportunities and Challenges in Infrastructure Investment,” Ambassador Cuisia urged investors to take another look at the Philippines  and take advantage of the country’s unprecedented growth that has made it the s0-called rising star of East Asia.

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Development Of IT Parks To Spur Balanced Economic Growth Unveiled

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MANILA -- A total of 63 new information-technology (IT) parks are now being developed nationwide, House Deputy Majority Leader Roman Romulo, who represents the lone district of Pasig City in Congress, revealed today, Sept. 21.  He said 41 of the emerging IT parks are in the provinces while 22 are in the National Capital Region.

“We strongly favor the advancement of new IT parks in highly urbanized corners outside Metro Manila. This will spur on balanced economic growth all over the country,” Romulo said.  He is a key backer of the labor-intensive, IT-enabled business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.

BPO firms are the predominant locators in tax-advantaged IT parks registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.

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US Credit Troubles: Problems For The Philippine Economy

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The recent United States (US) credit rating downgrade is just the latest sign that the global crisis which erupted in 2008 has not been resolved and will continue for years to come. The Philippine government and its economic managers are unfortunately oblivious to this reality in their medium-term planning and budgeting for 2012 which undermines the country’s prospects for development.

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Latest OFW Remittances Show Double Digit Growth Rate

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MANILA—Nullifying earlier reports of declining OFW remittances, latest data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas showed remittances from overseas Filipino workers coursed through banks grew by a double-digit rate for the first time in August.

The BSP said that remittances reached $1.7 billion in August, or a year-on-year expansion of 11 percent, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. announced.

For the first eight months of the year, cumulative remittances rose by almost 7 percent to $13 billion, with remittances from land-based and sea-based workers growing by 5 percent and 14.4 percent, respectively.

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CalPERS, Largest US Pension Fund Invests P2.1B In PLDT, 26 Other PH Firms

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The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), manager of the largest public pension fund in America, has invested some $51 million in the shares of stock of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. and at least 25 other Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE)-listed firms.

“We welcome the investment, which affirms the robust investor confidence in the Philippines, and in some of our best-managed companies,” Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas said.

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As Good Times Continue, Economy Grows

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MANILA -- Expats, celebs and investors are all eyeing the Philippines as an unprecedented boom is promising fortunes for a nation once known as the poor-man of Southeast Asia.

Much of the success for the economic boom can be put down to President Benigno Aquino who has been on a tough road of cleaning up corruption, bringing down budget deficits and boosting spending on infrastructure.

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Cha-cha ‘Fixation’: Lawmakers Fail To Learn From Economy’s Experience

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MANILA -- The proposal to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution to lessen restrictions for foreign investments shows that lawmakers still insist on an economic strategy that has clearly failed to develop the economy.

The newest push for Charter change (Cha-cha) supposedly seeks to revise the 1987 Constitution to give way for economic liberalization and attract more foreign investments. However according to research group IBON, foreign direct investment (FDI) has already been pouring into the Philippines over the last decades but with little to show in terms of overall economic development. This is because the fixation on attracting foreign investment has led to foregoing any long-term gains for the domestic economy.

The Ramos, Estrada and Arroyo administrations have given liberal privileges and generous incentives to FDI over the last two decades. The net result is that foreign investors have been able to make their profits but the supposed gains for economy and the people in terms of jobs, poverty reduction, industrialization and an advanced economy have not materialized.

In fact, increasing FDI has actually been accompanied by increasing unemployment, increasing labor export, falling real wages, shrinking domestic manufacturing and more volatile growth. The share of manufacturing in the economy has been steadily falling and, at 22.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) and 8.3% of employment in 2010, is already as small as in the 1950s or over half a century ago. There have also not been any real increases in domestic capital formation or in government revenues which have increasingly relied on regressive taxes on personal consumption.

The cumulative stock of FDI has increased twenty-seven-fold from US$914 million in 1980 to US$24.9 billion in 2010, increasing as a percentage of GDP from 2.8% to 13.2% over that same period. Annual inward FDI flows, in turn, increased from US$114 million in 1980 to US$1.71 billion in 2010. As a percentage of gross fixed capital formation, these flows rose from 1.3% in 1980 to a peak of 17.7% in 2006 before dropping to 8.3% in 2009 and further to 5.8% in 2010.

Foreign investments should supposedly help in building a strong productive economic base. However there is nothing to indicate that FDI has contributed to creating a strong domestic economy able to create jobs on a sustainable basis.

Changing the charter out of a fixation to attract foreign investment fails to learn lessons from the past and is going to be a step backward for Philippine development, IBON said.



The Mighty Pharmaceutical Industry

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MANILA (July 19) — Sen. Mar Roxas is raising hell about the alleged collusion between the Arroyo government and the pharmaceutical industry to delay if not derail the implementation of Republic Act 9502, or the “Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008,” which was signed on June 6, 2008. Among the provisions the multinational pharmaceutical companies are reportedly blocking is the setting of the maximum retail price for 22 essential medicines. To sweeten the deal between the Arroyo government and pharmaceutical firms, Pfizer allegedly offered five million “sulit” discount cards to President Arroyo for distribution to indigent patients around the country. (Remember the distribution of PhilHealth cards in 2004?)

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