Friday, 13 March 2015

PIA News Dispatch - Saturday, March 7, 2015

APEC member economies could learn from Philippines' financial system, says Central Bank official

(TAGAYTAY CITY, Cavite) The Philippines has a lot to share in terms of best financial practices, with fellow member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) if they want to emulate those initiatives, Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said Friday.

"I think we have distinguished ourselves in terms of undertaking initiatives in micro finance consumer protection and inclusive financial system," Guinigundo said during a press conference held at the Summit Ridge Hotel here following the two-day APEC Finance and Central Bank Deputies’ Meeting.

The initiatives under this umbrella include the tweaking of regulations to allow financial institutions to open up windows for micro finance, he said.

He explained that micro finance allows micro enterprises to borrow funds without collateral and without credit history, although the amount of the loan may be limited.

Other countries could also examine the Philippines' credit surety fund, which the Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas has initiated. This is leveraging on the country's cooperatives that allows them to borrow 10 times of their minimum P100,000 contribution, he said.

Under this set up, there is an oversight committee composed of cooperatives themselves, the Land Bank of the Philippines, the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), the Industrial Guarantee Loan Fund, and the local government units, he said, adding that more than P1 billion has been granted under this framework.

The good combination of monetary policy and macro prudential policy is also something that the Philippines can share, he said.

Guinigundo said that in some jurisdictions, particularly in advanced economies, macro prudential measures are still in their early stages of being considered, much less implemented.

In the Philippines, these macro prudential measures serve as a means of ensuring financial stability in case of sector-specific shocks, particularly in asset markets, such as real estate properties, and at the same time on the conduct of monetary policy, he said.

The kind of financial reforms that the Philippines has undertaken would also be a good example, Guinigundo said, noting that the Philippines had implemented Basel III earlier than 2019 and it is moving quite prudently across the various components of Basel III, first with capitalization, and second with stable funding ratio, liquidity ratio, and others.

Basel III is a set of international banking regulations developed by the Bank for International Settlements to promote stability in the international financial system. The purpose of Basel III is to reduce the ability of banks to damage the economy by taking on excess risk.

"This is being done in a sequential, very prudent manner and this is also something that we like to share with them," he said.

Participants of the APEC Finance and Central Bank Deputies' Meeting wrapped up their two-day discussion held at the Taal Vista Hotel here Friday, with meeting results to be included in the Cebu Action Plan that will be launched in September. PND (as)

APEC member economies to create public private partnership knowledge portal to speed up infrastructure investments

(TAGAYTAY CITY, Cavite) Member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) are gearing up to implement two initiatives that aim to leverage private funds towards public private partnership (PPP) projects, including the establishment of a regional PPP knowledge management portal.

In a press briefing at the close of the two-day APEC Finance and Central Bank Deputies’ Meeting here, Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo stressed that while many APEC economies and emerging markets have excess savings, financing for infrastructure development remains a problem.

“While we have the savings, we do not have a sufficient number of bankable and credible infrastructure projects. If we are able to provide the member countries with a sufficient number of projects that are bankable, that which can be taken immediately, I think we would have a good use for our excess savings,” he said.

Guinigundo said APEC finance and central bank deputies explored alternatives for financing infrastructure, including leveraging private funds to the PPP projects as well as the continuous disposition of public funds to advance the cost of infrastructure development in the region.

He said the creation of the PPP knowledge portal hopes to address this problem, as this will provide basic information on the opportunities in the region in terms of infrastructure development.

“It will provide the potential investors an idea of where the opportunities arise and are available and the kind of financing that is needed in the projects,” he added.

Guinigundo pointed out that some of the key components of the portal have already been completed by the Philippines’ PPP Center.

“What we want to do is also to link that knowledge portal with other PPP portals. So you will have an APEC PPP portal,” he said.

Apart from this initiative, Guinigundo said the Philippines is also pushing for “standardized” PPP contracts, considering the differences in terms of legal framework across the APEC economies.

“But the idea was to provide some kind of template, the key features of what a PPP contract should have. (This is) so that we can uphold good governance in conducting those PPP projects and in the process, encourage more interest in the PPP (program),” he said.

The BSP official said standardizing PPP contracts would be very important in facilitating infrastructure investments.

“Both (initiatives) are short term, so these will be done within one to two years. We will try to do these very quickly,” said Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran. PNA (ldv)

Palace vows continuing assistance to Central Mindanao evacuees

Malacanang made an assurance that it will continue to help more than 16,000 families affected by the ongoing conflict in central Mindanao until stability is restored in the area.

In a radio interview Saturday, Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said 16,111 families in 59 barangays are affected by the conflict.

There are 49 evacuation centers catering to 13,261 families, she added citing data from the National Disaster Risk and Management Council (NDRRMC).

The national government has so far released P16.6-million worth of relief assistance, Valte told dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan.

Asked to comment on reports about the possible tactical alliance between groups that are not part of the peace talks like the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Abu Sayyaf Group, Valte said the military will just do its mandate to neutralize other rebel and terrorist groups.

“Ipagpapatuloy lang ng ating armed forces ang kanilang mga operasyon laban sa mga ganitong grupo,” she said.

"At alam naman natin na hindi lang sila isang armed group, alam din natin ang mga activities nila. In the case of the Abu Sayyaf, obviously bandits ang mga ito; it’s a bandit group so tuloy ang operasyon ng ating AFP." PND (as)

Aquino administration continues anti-poverty efforts, says official

The Aquino government will continue pursuing anti-poverty initiatives to lift more poor people out of poverty especially after a report on rising poverty rate was released.

A recent report said that the poverty rate in the country rose to nearly 26 percent in the first half of 2014 because of high food prices and the effects of typhoons that hit the country.

But Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview Saturday that the scope of the study was in the last six months of 2013 and January to June of 2014.

"Medyo iba ang mga kondisyon ng panahon na iyon at kahit sinabi naman ng NEDA (National Economic Development Authority) na may epekto rin ang pagdating ng bagyong ‘Yolanda’ dahil doon sa mga datos na nakuha nila," Valte told dzRB by Radyo ng Bayan.

"I think between the time that the study was made and ngayon, medyo malaki na rin ang difference ng naging pagbaba naman ng mga presyo ng mga pangunahing bilihin dahil na rin sa naging pagbaba sa presyo ng gasolina at ng krudo."

Valte also said that although the government expanded the coverage of the conditional cash transfer program (CCT), the Department of Social Welfare and Development also carried out efforts to clean up its list of beneficiaries.

The DSWD delisted beneficiaries that were not complying with conditions of the CCT program.

"So nagkaroon ito ng epekto doon sa numero ng mga benepisyaryo na tumanggap ng mga grant para sa CCT—at least for the period that the NEDA studied," she said.

"Ngayon na tapos na ang cleaning up and delisting ng mga hindi na eligible na mga beneficiaries, mas marami na rin ang nako-cover ngayon ng CCT."

The Palace official also made an assurance that the government will continue to pursue efforts that would help alleviate poverty in the country.

Among these initiatives include encouraging investors to put their money in the Philippines and made existing local industries to be competitive, she said. PND (as)

Official: Government committed to permanently solving port congestion problem

The Palace said the government is ready to work with private business groups to eventually solve the port congestion problem especially as imports pick up during peak months.

The Semiconductors and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Inc., PhilExport, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, and other business groups issued a statement saying the port congestion problem is not fully resolved.

This contradicts the previous government statement that it was able to remedy port congestion problem in the ports of Manila.

These business groups said this remains to be seen because the months of January, and February are lean seasons, the time government declared lesser volume. When the peak months set in, they doubt the current container volume could be sustained.

In a radio interview Saturday, Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the government is aware that seasons change and that there are different needs depending on a particular season.

"But we would like to assure them that we intend to have the situation to remain the same; una, ina-anticipate na natin ‘na in particular months of the year ay dadami ang volume ng mga dumadaan doon sa mga ports natin; at pangalawa, we do intend to sustain the current situation," she said.

"We are always ready to communicate and to work with these groups to hear their suggestions as well as their concerns." PND (as)