economy

PRRD calls for accountability on effects of climate change

June 5, 2019

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Friday called for accountability on the global effects of climate change. "The Philippines joined the global consensus to fight climate change. We hope that this consensus would hold and real action be undertaken, especially by those most responsible for this monumental problem. Governments must comply with obligations beyond our constituency," he said during his keynote address at the Nikkei Conference in Tokyo, Japan. "There is not even a sanction. And mankind has always been there as practiced by many over the periods of generations of just talk. And at the end of a century or two, there is trouble, there is war. I don’t know what would be the end result of this climate change, but I can say to you now it will wreak destruction," he added. Duterte said the Philippines is suffering worse than other countries on the issue of climate change. "We are faced with the same global challenges, but some suffer more than others. Nothing demonstrates this better than climate change. Vulnerabilities are not equally shared by all nations. Developing countries that have contributed the least to global warming, like my country the Philippines, suffer the most from its horrendous consequences," he said. The President called for an end to this cycle as he addressed government and business leaders from other countries. "Governments with limited resources and capabilities have to contend with this spiral of suffering on top of the urgent development priorities. This vicious cycle is real. And indeed it must end. There has to be a way. When the lives of millions hang in the balance, there has got to be a way," he said. The President said the Philippines, being an archipelago, is greatly affected by typhoons. "With water levels rising, most countries will measure the losses in terms of coastlines. Developing archipelagic nations like the Philippines, however, measure our losses in terms of islands and the lives of our citizens. Year in and year out we suffer doubly when typhoons strike," he said. Duterte said it is the poor who suffers the most from the effects of climate change. "The poorest of our poor bear the brunt of damage, becoming even poorer in the aftermath," he said. (PNA)

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Workers point to contractualization for SWS-DOLE discrepancy on unemployment

November 14, 2018

In its recent survey for the 3rd quarter of 2018, the SWS said that 22% or 9.8 million Filipinos are unemployed. The labor department countered this by citing the official data of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), which peg the unemployment rate at 5.4%, covering some 2.3 million, in its July 2018 Labor Force Survey.   Informal Economy   “The stark difference between public perception and the official unemployment statistics shows that the unemployed and underemployed millions and our government statisticians have different definitions of ‘unemployment’, said BMP Chair Leody de Guzman.   “To the PSA and the DOLE, the ranks of the employed include those who are working in the precarious informal sector. Those who are out-of-work but are not looking for work are also not counted as unemployed," he added.      “The SWS survey reflects the problem of underemployment. To the workers and the poor, and rightly so, those who are making ends meet through odd and irregular side-jobs – including informal street vendors and street food peddlers - are not truly employed. But are regarded as employed by the PSA and DOLE, partly because these agencies want to turn a blind eye to government’s incapacity to provide full employment to the Filipino people,” de Guzman noted.   “The official definition of employment, which excludes those who are not looking for work by removing them in the category of ‘labor force’, is flawed. A sizeable chunk of the unemployed are not looking for work, not because they are lazy and useless. They would not bother themselves with the costly expenses of finding work only to land in lowly-paid contractual work, if ever they are absorbed by the formal economy,” he explained.    Contractualization, Flexible Work Schemes   De Guzman said the crux of the matter is the changing definition of the term ‘employed’, not only in the Philippines but also in global governing bodies such as the International Labor Organization (ILO). This redefinition transpired in the late 1990s as governments subscribed to the policy of flexibilization of labor by transnational monopoly corporations.   “Gone are the days when employment meant having regular jobs with regular pay, as employers shifted to schemes for cheap and docile labor,” de Guzman, the lone senatorial candidate of the labor sector, running under Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) stressed    Rather than deny the problem of underemployment, which is truly unemployed in perception of the public, the BMP leader asserted that the Duterte administration deliver on its promise to end contractualization. “The workers have not forgotten the campaign promise of ‘contractualization must stop’ by then candidate Rodrigo Duterte during the 2016 elections."   BMP claims that Duterte could have easily prohibited all forms of labor contracting, a power that is accorded to the DOLE Secretary by Article 106 of the Labor Code – an alter-ego of the chief executive for labor affairs.   “Duterte could simply issue an executive order for the prohibition of this patently anti-labor work scheme. But he would not deliver on his promises, because there is no honesty to the words of this pro-capitalist compulsive liar,” the veteran labor leader concluded. (30)

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CDO PH’s 2nd Most Competitive City after Makati

August 7, 2014

  Launched Thursday, 07 August 2014  at the Regional Competitiveness Summit, the Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI) measures competitiveness at the local government level using 28 indicators grouped into three equally-weighted pillars: Economic Dynamism, Government Efficiency, and Infrastructure. Scores on each pillar were combined to form the overall score used to rank cities and municipalities.   Cagayan de Oro also ranked second in infrastructure, fifth in government efficiency, and ninth in economic dynamism.   Makati topped the overall rankings with an overall score of 53.242174, followed by Cagayan de Oro (49.363393), Naga City (49.075166), Davao (47.16761) and Marikina City (45.465443).   Rounding out the top 10 in overall competitiveness were the cities of Iloilo, Cebu, Manila, Valenzuela and Paranaque.   The CMCI 2014 featured a record number of 136 cities and 399 municipalities, up from 122 cities and 163 municipalities in the pilot run in 2013 which was topped by Cagayan de Oro.   For municipalities, Daet (Camarines Norte) was ranked the most competitive overall, followed by General Trias (Cavite) and Kalibo (Aklan).   Awards were also given to the top three cities and municipalities per category. While the National Capital Region swept the Economic Dynamism category with the cities of Parañaque, Makati, and Manila taking the top spots, the Government Efficiency category was dominated by cities outside Metro Manila.   The top cities for Government Efficiency were Naga (Camarines Sur), Iloilo (Iloilo), and Angeles (Pampanga).   For the Infrastructure category, the top cities were Davao (Davao del Sur), Cagayan de Oro (Misamis Oriental), and Marikina.   Among the municipalities, the most competitive for Economic Dynamism were Tanza (Cavite), General Trias (Cavite), and San Pedro (Laguna), all from Region IV-A, CALABARZON.   The most competitive municipalities for Government Efficiency were Kalibo (Aklan), Tupi (South Cotabato), and San Mateo (Isabela). Finally, for Infrastructure, the most competitive municipalities were Daet (Camarines Norte), Rodriguez (Rizal), and Paniqui (Tarlac).   The results highlight the importance of being competitive in several factors, especially those which are closely examined by potential investors. It should be noted that the top three cities and municipalities for overall competitiveness also received at least one award in a category.   In addition to pursuing across-the-board competitiveness, NCC Private Sector Co-Chairman Guillermo M. Luz advised stakeholders at the Regional Competitiveness Summit to work together in building cities and municipalities which are affordable, accessible, socially-acceptable, environmentally-friendly, economically-viable, and climate-resilient. The CMCI was designed to encourage local governments to regularly track data and eventually benchmark performance against other cities in the ASEAN to better manage their regions.   The CMCI was developed by the NCC through the Regional Competitiveness Committees (RCCs) with the assistance of the INVEST Project of USAID. City and municipality data used in the CMCI were voluntarily submitted by the RCCs.   Economic Dynamism scores were based on data on the size and growth of the local economy as measured by business registrations, capital, revenues, and occupancy permits; capacity to generate employment; cost of living; cost of doing business; financial deepening; productivity; and presence of business and professional organizations. Government Efficiency scores were based on data on transparency scores, economic governance scores, local taxes and revenues, local competition-related awards, business registration efficiency, investment promotion, compliance to national directives, security, health, and education. Infrastructure scores were based on data on existing road network, distance from city/municipality center to major ports, Department of Tourism-accredited accommodations, health infrastructure, education infrastructure, basic utilities, infrastructure investments, ICT connection, ATMs, and public transportation.

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RICE INVENTORIES STABILIZE PRICES IN REGION X

July 15, 2014

According to figures gathered by the DA-10’s Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD), the average price of regular milled rice rose 20.5 percent for the first six months of 2014 to PhP 37.81 per kilo compared to only PhP 31.38 for the same period last year. The average price for premium rice increased 19.83% over the same period from PhP 40.03/kg. to P47.97/kg.  Well-milled rice also rose 17.47% from PhP 36.64/kg. to P43.04/kg. over the same period.  However, for January to June 2014, the increase recorded was only 2.17% from P37.19 (January) to P38 (June) per kg. for regular milled rice."    “We do monitoring of rice prices twice a week throughout the region,” Ms. Hojas said. “So we don’t really have a big increase in prices for 2014 because we have enough supply. If indeed there is increase in price even with enough supply, somehow, somewhere, some people may be manipulating.”   Speaking in the same forum, Information Officer Celeste Gaabucayan of the National Food Authority Region X said the rise in prices could also be attributed to the milling and other costs traders incurred and inputted into their retail prices.   “When they buy palay at P22 per kilo, traders incur expenses such as milling and labor to convert it into edible rice,” she explained. “In order to break even, they have to price their milled rice at PhP 44/kg. and add two pesos profit margin and that’s how you have PhP 46/kg. retail price for premium rice.”   “Similarly, when NFA buys palay at P17/kg. it has to price at P34/kg. to break even. So when NFA sells it at P32/kg. it is subsidized,” she added. “However, since June 30 NFA outlets were directed to start retailing regular milled rice to marginalized poor at P27/kg. which is also available to better off buyers who want to buy it.”   Gaabucayan said NFA-10 has increased the allocation for NFA outlets in the city up to 100 bags a day to address the situation. The agency has two outlets each in Agora and Puerto, and one each in Cogon and Carmen markets. In addition, it has rolling stores roving the barangays selling NFA rice at PhP 27/kg. for targeted beneficiaries in partnership with DSWD.        The rise in retail prices followed the rise in the average farm gate price of palay which rose to P18.27/kg. for the first quarter of 2014, up from PhP 15.06 over the same period last year.   Figures from the PSA-BAS X presented by NEDA during the forum show palay production for the first quarter increasing 22.79% from 143,179 metric tons (M.T.) to 175,809MT.   As a result, net rice production available for consumption against the clean rice requirement also increased the region’s rice sufficiency level for the 1st quarter to 76.89% compared to only 64.93% over the same period last year, using the same per capita consumption figure of 115.7 kgs. versus the region’s 2014 estimated population of 4,508,166.   The region’s total rice stocks of 2,256,383 bags as of 01 March 2014 as monitored by NFA-X was 91.3 percent higher than the total monitored over the same period last year, and was estimated to last 84 days based on the region’s daily rice consumption of around 26,820 bags.   Prices were apparently also stabilized by the increase in the inflow of rice from outside the region compared to outflows for the 1st quarter of the year.   Rice inflows/outflows monitored by the AMAD showed rice inflows increasing to 5,107.5MT compared to only 3,487.95MT over the same period last year, for a 1,619.55MT increase or 46.4%. Some 96% of rice imports to the region came from Manila and Cebu in 2013, while 92.3% were accounted for by Iloilo in 2014.   On the other hand, rice outflows dropped from 4,326.40MT in 2013 to only 1,279.MT in 2014, a steep 70.4% decrease. Some 2,800MT of the rice outflows (64.7%) in 2013 were shipped to Tacloban for victims of Typhoon Yolanda, while the bulk (94.75%) in the first quarter of 2014 was shipped to Cebu.

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Advocates claim solar PV Plants in Mindanao feasible despite low FiT

May 1, 2013

David A. Tauli, engineering consultant from the Office of Rep. Florencio T. Flores, Jr. (2nd District, Bukidnon) said this is attainable even if the National Renewable Energy Board only set 100MW as the initial installation target for solar PV plants all over the country under the Renewable Energy Law of 2008 (Republic Act  No. 9513).   “The FIT for solar PV approved by the ERC (9.68 pesos/kWh, compared with the 17.95 applied for by the NREB) cannot make any commercial solar PV project viable. No private sector project can be implemented with such a low level of FIT,” Mr. Tauli noted.   Mr. Tauli said solar PV advocates will have to apply to the ERC for higher FIT (more than 15 pesos/kWh) that would make commercial projects viable.   “But we cannot do that under the PNOY government, whose energy officials appear to be hostile to solar PV,” said Mr. Tauli. “For now, the only grid-connected solar PV projects that can get done are those that can obtain subsidies or grants, which will have to come from foreign countries or international agencies because large amounts of grants are required.”   Mr. Tauli recently attended the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) Review and Workshop, held April 18-19, 2013, in Baguio City under the aegis of the National Renewable Energy Board to come up with revised projections of renewable energy projects for private sector investments under RA 9513.   “I believe these are more realistic targets than whatever numbers the NREP Workshop came up with,” he said. “Theirs may be more realistic than my numbers, but also hopeless. I really believe the projections below for solar PV in Mindanao are attainable.”   Mr. Tauli identified the following solar PV projects in Mindanao set for development from 2013-2023: ·         40-MW solar PV project of the Marawi City Government. Total project cost is estimated at PhP 5.25 billion. Private sector investment will be around PhP 3.22 billion, with the balance to be sourced from local LGU equity in the form of a grant from an Arabian government or donor agency in the amount of PhP 2.03 billion. The project will be operated conjunctively with one 40-MW unit of the Agus 1 hydro electric power plant to provide peaking capacity for consumers connected to the Mindanao Grid. The project is designed to be given the FIT of PhP 9.68 PhP/kWh approved by the ERC. Target date of operation is 2016. ·         10-MW embedded solar PV project in General Santos City of the Mindanao State University to be used primarily for applied research by MSU. The 10-MW solar PV plant will be used primarily for applied research by MSU. It is estimated to cost 1.31 billion pesos, with private capital contributing 0.80 billion, and MSU contributing 0.51 billion pesos to be sourced from grants. The project is designed to be given the FIT of 9.68 PhP/kWh approved by the ERC. Target date of operation is 2016. ·         100 MW embedded solar PV power plants in various electric cooperatives and private distribution utilities. This assumes that an increased FIT for solar PV, in the amount of 15.94 pesos per kilowatt-hour, will be approved in 2016, making it financially feasible for the private sector to invest in utility-scale solar PV projects. 100 MW will be installed in Mindanao to partially meet the lack of energy supply to distribution utilities. Target date of operation is 2017. ·         450 MW embedded solar PV power plants in various electric cooperatives and private distribution utilities. It is assumed that grid-parity with diesel power plants will be attained in 2022 by solar PV. If so, solar PV power plants with a total capacity of 450 MW will be installed in Mindanao to replace around 200 MW of diesel power plants that are being operated in that year as base-load power plants.     When the NREB filed on May 2011 with the Energy Regulatory Commission the application for Feed-in Tariff (FiT) rates for various technologies, the proposed FiTs in pesos per kilowatt-hour for the various technologies and the initial installation targets in megawatts were as follows: P10.37/kWh for Wind @ 250MW; P7.00/kWh for Biomass @ 250MW; P17.95/kWh for Solar @ 100MW; P6.15/kWh for Mini Hydro @220MW; and P17.65/kWh for Ocean @10MW.   “Those were realistic targets for each technology under the respective FiTs proposed because the FiTs would enable investors to earn a commercially viable rate of return for the power plants that would be constructed,” Mr. Tauli said. “However, the Energy Regulatory Commission subsequently reduced the recommended Feed In Tariff rate to only P9.68/kWh for solar PV power plants, rendering the installation target immaterial.”   Instead, Mr. Tauli advocates Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP) since these would enable government agencies, especially local government units (LGUs), to access low cost ODA funds which would make the solar projects feasible.   “For instance, for the 40-MW solar PV plant in Marawi that we are still pursuing, we will have to get a grant of around two billion pesos. We believe the Arabian countries can make such a grant available for a project in the ARMM,” he said.   Mr. Tauli concedes that because of the need for subsidies it will take some time to put a solar PV project on the ground. While continuing to pursue solar PV projects, he also advocates getting hydro projects implemented by provincial, city and municipal governments.   “After the elections, we will work on getting the Lanao Norte provincial government to implement the Agus 3 hydro (225 MW) and the Bukidnon provincial government to implement the Tagoloan 2 hydro (68 MW), and on other LGUs to implement small hydro projects (10 MW or smaller),” he said.  “This is the only way to getting enough power plants implemented to meet the long-term requirements of Mindanao, while keeping the rates low (four pesos per kWh or less).”   A US-based Filipino company providing renewable energy solutions shares Mr. Tauli’s optimism about solar energy for Mindanao.   “The Department of Energy’s thumbing down solar energy as solution to the power crisis in the southern Philippines is not a hindrance or a barrier in the pursuit of a lasting and ultimately cheaper power sources in Mindanao,” said Engr. Winston Lorenzana Mendoza, chief executive officer of Mendoza Solar, LLC in a media statement.   Mendoza Solar, LLC is an energy company registered in California and Nevada, USA. It provides renewable energy solutions for all types of property owners.   Its Philippine subsidiary, Lim Solar Philippines, promotes portable fuel cell electric systems that address base energy needs, especially for off-grid remote areas. It currently has a solar integration and development projects with De La Salle University, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and Camp Aguinaldo, among others.   Another company under the Mendoza Group, the Lorenzana Energy International has solar integration and development projects in Malaysia, Hawaii, Guam, California and Nevada.   “Solar energy as well as other renewable energy sources are very appropriate for Mindanao if we look at the long term and the impact of climate change, which exacerbates natural phenomenon such as typhoons and storms,” Mr. Mendoza said.   For the last several years, Mindanao is now the favorite of natural disasters, whose impacts were exacerbated by climate change-inducing fossil fuels. We can no longer afford to let Mindanao suffer. Solar energy is abundant in the island and it provides clean energy, he noted.   Mendoza said Lim solar can offer electric cooperatives in Mindanao very minimal prices for solar power as well as 100 percent financing for residences and small businesses.   “For Mindanao, I will offer P7.47 per KWh to the electric coop and large megawatt level users and P8.50 to small users. I will also straight finance the residential and small businesses,” he said.

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