Friday, 13 March 2015

PIA News Dispatch - Friday, March 6, 2015

APEC Philippines 2015 organizers host welcome dinner for delegates, finance deputies

(TAGAYTAY CITY, Cavite) The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Philippines 2015’s National Organizing Committee, in cooperation with the Department of Finance, hosted a welcome dinner in honor of participating delegates and finance deputies at the Taal Vista Hotel here Thursday.

The guests were invited to the pre-dinner cocktail reception at the hotel's covered terrace, where they were met by a marching brass band and treated to a musical fanfare.

Young musicians played classical and light music while members of the Centro Escolar University folk dance troupe performed for the entertainment of the APEC delegates.

Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said APEC delegates were amazed by Tagaytay's beauty and some of them have hinted at returning for a vacation or for possible investment.

In a previous interview, Marciano Paynor, Secretary General of the APEC Philippines 2015’s National Organizing Committee, said holding the forum’s initial meetings in different locations in the country aims to promote these places for tourism and investment.

These meetings run up to the APEC Leaders' Meeting in November.

Tagaytay City, dubbed as the country's second summer capital because of its cool climate, is a favorite getaway and tourist destination in the country.

It provides a spectacular view of the Taal Volcano nestled in Taal Lake. The city offers an array of places to visit as well as local dishes for visitors to enjoy.

Tagaytay City is part of Cavite province and has a total land area of 6,500 hectares. It is approximately 60 kilometers away from Metro Manila and it takes about one hour to travel from the metropolis. PND (as)

Private sector spells out initiatives that would help small businesses in Asia Pacific

(TAGAYTAY CITY, Cavite) The private sector has identified 12 initiatives that could be included in the Cebu Action Plan (CAP) to help small businesses, a private sector representative to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC) has said.

In a press conference at the Summit Ridge Hotel here on Thursday, Dr. Caesar Parrenas said that these initiatives include the creation of a credit information system, the use of movable collaterals, and fixing trade and supply chain financing.

Parrenas, who is a member of ABAC, said one of the problems of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Asia-Pacific region, especially the medium enterprises, is that many of them do not have real state collaterals.

In many cases, if an enterprise does not have any real state collateral, it cannot get loans from banks, he said.

The ABAC, he noted, is collating experiences from countries that have successfully initiated legal reforms that allow the use of movables as collaterals, which are very important to SMEs.

But doing this is not simple, he said, adding that when policymakers make laws, they need to create a whole operational infrastructure that would allow the use of movables as collaterals.

A searchable collateral registry must also be set up, as what Australia did for its small and medium businesses, he said.

Parrenas explained that under this set up, borrowers could register their collaterals in the Internet and lenders could check them online.

The system must be consistent, he said, adding that even in advanced economies like Japan, they have a system called “perfection system” to address issues when a company goes bankrupt.

"We are looking at the best practices that are already there and share these experiences with Asians, especially with the developing Asian economies which have expressed their interest in initiating reforms," he said.

Citing an example, he said Vietnam is carrying out reforms in this area and the ABAC is providing advice. Aside from the private sector, experts from multilateral institutions such as the International Finance Corp., have been working on these issues for many years.

Another issue that is important to SMEs is trade and supply chain financing, Parrenas explained, pointing out that there are two sets of issues in this area: regulatory issues that raise the cost and limit the availability of trade financing for SMEs, and innovations coming into the market.

These market innovations are being done by some banks, suppliers and buyers but there is very little awareness on these issues, hence the need to raise awareness, he said.

Another important thing for small businesses is an e-commerce platform, Parrenas said, noting that the issue on e-commerce platform is how to develop the regulatory structure that would make it safe and function efficiently.

The APEC Finance and Central Bank Deputies' Meeting opened on Thursday to address the concerns of businesses in the region, as well as spur economic growth. PND (as)

APEC member economies push for adoption of structural reforms to boost growth

(TAGAYTAY CITY, Cavite) Member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) are pushing for the adoption of more structural reforms, including those that improve access to financing for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), in an effort to regain their pre-crisis growth levels.

In a press briefing on the sidelines of the APEC Finance and Central Bank Deputies’ Meeting here Thursday, Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran said the 21 Pacific Rim economies grouped in the APEC are concerned with making their respective economies grow as fast as before the global financial crisis.

Beltran said APEC economies were growing four to five percent before the crisis.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts growth in the Asia-Pacific region to accelerate to 4.3 percent this year from 3.9 percent in 2014.

“But they noted there was a slowdown in investments, which explains why there is a need for some efforts on the part of the member economies to do more structural reforms, improve on their policies so their economies will strengthen and so that investors’ confidence will be restored,” he said.

The APEC believes that structural reforms can address volatility, Beltran said, noting that adopting measures can make the economy grow faster, enhance market efficiency, and enable some sectors to access financing to fund their businesses.

“Structural reforms are really measures that countries can adopt to make their economies efficient, that will generate more economic activities,” he added.

Beltran said among the planned measures is the setting up of credit information bureaus in all APEC member economies.

“It will allow the lenders to know more about potential borrowers who are still excluded from the system. For instance, an SME in a faraway province can’t get financing because he has no credit rating. With a credit information bureau, possible lenders just look into the sites to find out whether this potential borrower is a good one,” he said.

Beltran said alternative data to enable the lenders to identify the borrowers include their utility payments.

“And if these small entrepreneurs are able to get some funds to expand their business, then that will create a lot of employment that will generate economic activity in the communities where they are located,” he added. PNA (ldv)

Asia-Pacific countries could tap their savings to spur growth, development, says finance official

(TAGAYTAY CITY, Cavite) Many member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) could tap their savings to revive regional growth by using their investable funds for infrastructure and wider financial inclusion, a finance official said on Thursday.

Infrastructure development is very important to the growth of an economy, Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran told a press conference.

He said that growth could further be enhanced if previously untapped businesses, such as micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) of low-income households are covered.

Beltran told reporters that the contradicting monetary stances of Europe, Japan and the United States after the financial crisis could result in some volatility in the financial market.

Some countries are still in the low growth level, such as Europe and Japan, and they are loosening up their monetary policies to revive growth, he said.

The US, on the other hand, has divergent monetary policies as it tries to normalize its monetary policy, adjusting interest rates to higher levels, according to Beltran.

These two contradicting monetary stances could result in some volatility in the financial market, he noted, adding that what worries APEC member economies is how to adjust their policies so they could avoid or emerge from a more volatile financial situatio

During Thursday's meeting between finance and central bank deputies, Beltran said the general consensus is that the best antidote to volatility would be structural reforms.

These initiatives include adopting measures that will make the economy grow faster, enhancing efficiency in the markets and in the production process, and getting some sectors that are unable to get financing so they would be able to finance their businesses, he said.

These, he said, are the things that will make investors think twice before leaving a country.

"If your economy is growing, your private sector is showing some resiliency and good growth, then the funds will stay. Because basically, the Asia-Pacific region is the fastest growing region in the world," Beltran added. PND (as)

Benefits from President’s Social Fund already released to slain troopers’ families

The Palace said on Friday that the assistance from the President’s Social Fund has already been released to the families of the 44 police commandos who died during a law enforcement operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January.
“As far as the assistance from the Presidential Social Fund, all that has been already given to the recipients and to the families. The others, the PNP (Philippine National Police) is already expediting the processing of some of the benefits,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said during a press briefing in MalacaƱang.

Valte noted that 61 relatives of the slain troopers have been given employment and enlistment assistance while other requests are being processed by the Department of Labor and Employment.

Educational assistance, she said, will be provided by the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for the legitimate children of the fallen troopers.

“Kapag hindi po sila nag-qualify sa NAPOLCOM scholarship or sa CHED assistance, nagbigay po ng instructions ang Pangulo sa Executive Secretary na aralin kung ano pa ang ibang mga pondong puwedeng i-tap para naman po sa kanilang educational assistance. So, hindi po ito limited sa anak, sa naiwang magulang, kasama din po ang mga kapatid na madalas na nabibigyan po natin ng assistance,” she said.

Asked if extended family members of the troopers had also sought help, Valte said some of them did ask for some help.

“Noong nagkausap sila ng Pangulo, siyempre, humingi na rin ng kaunti pang tulong. We do not begrudge them that and we will also go the extra mile to accommodate these requests, of course, so long as they are within our capacity to give,” she said. PND (ag)

Women’s Commission Chief vows to continue to press for gender equality, promote women’s rights

The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) has reaffirmed its commitment to campaign for gender equality, women’s rights and women empowerment.

“On this year’s observance of Women’s Month, we reiterate our resolve to remain steadfast in our work. We count on the women and girls from all sectors at the local to national levels to lead the advocacy and to participate in politics and decision-making. We urge women to have a say on how our efforts towards gender equality are directed and implemented, and for them to make the critical interventions in terms of programming and resource allocation,” PCW Executive Director Emelyn Verzosa said during a press briefing in MalacaƱang on Friday.

Verzosa said that while the Philippines is now considered as one of the gender-friendly countries in the world, “it remains a work in progress.”

“Challenges to the attainment of gender equality are ever present. Key areas of concern for women and girls then still hold true now. It appears our work to empower women and provide equal opportunities for women and men will never end. But we carry with us decades of hard work and experiences that will help us face these challenges. More can be done, more should be done,” she added.

Verzosa said the PCW is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, which is also the 20th year since the country adapted the Beijing Platform for Action, the agenda to uphold gender equality, development and peace during the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women.

“Since then, we have come a long way, and although our country remains to be a work in progress, the collective and convergent efforts of the government, civil society organizations, academe, private sector, media and the general public have started to bring results and meaning to women and girls,” she said.

“We have overcome the gender gap in educational attainment and health and survival where we ranked first in Asia,” Verzosa noted, citing the 2014 Global Gender Gap Index Report made by the World Economic Forum where the Philippines was ranked ninth in the world, the only Asian country in the Top 10.

She also mentioned the Magna Carta of Women which was passed in 2009 and other laws that cover various aspects of women’s lives and human rights, her entitlement to various programs and services in education, health, access to resources, decent jobs, safety and security, representation and participation, among others.

Verzosa said women have contributed significantly to family income as employees, entrepreneurs, or even migrant workers. She said a survey of 42 countries by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor a few years ago showed that the Philippines was second among active female entrepreneurs, next to Peru.

She further said that the Department of Trade and Industry has reported that 54 percent of enterprises are female-owned, and more recently, a survey by the Asian Institute of Management in 2014 showed that 63 percent of managers who are owners of micro, small and medium enterprises are women, most of whom are in the micro level. PND (jm)

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation members agree to develop insurance market for agriculture sector, small businesses

(TAGAYTAY CITY, Cavite) Member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) have reached a consensus to develop the region's insurance market for the agriculture sector, small households, and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to shield them from the effects of natural calamities, a finance official said on Friday.

Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran, who chaired the day’s session on financial resiliency which is part of the APEC Finance and Central Bank Deputies' Meeting, said there is broad support towards deepening insurance markets to ensure that these sectors are protected.

Beltran said that during the meeting, it was mentioned that losses from disasters in the Asia-Pacific region are estimated at $200 billion each year, hence the need for regional insurance coverage.

"And only less than a half of this is insured. So, there is a big market out there that needs some protection from natural disasters and we need to develop the markets that will allow them to be protected," he told reporters during a press conference after wrapping up the meeting here in Tagaytay City.

For his part, Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo discussed the Cebu Action Plan (CAP) that will be launched in Cebu this September.

The Cebu Action Plan has four pillars: financial integration, fiscal transparency and policy reform, financial resiliency, and infrastructure development and financing.

When asked by reporters regarding the timetable to implement the CAP, Guingundo said the first two could be done over the short term.

He further said that urban development is a whole process of urbanization and thus, the corresponding infrastructure component will have to be prepared in terms of sharing knowledge of innovative financing for sustainable urban development.

The APEC Finance and Central Bank Deputies' Meeting tackled financial resiliency and infrastructure development and financing on Friday, the last day of the meeting. PND (as)