The Daily Roundup: 20 January 2011

Asian FDI gains noted by UN; investors bypassing Philippines?” by Jessica Anne D. Hermosa

SEVERAL Southeast Asian economies enjoyed as much as a five-fold increase in foreign direct investments (FDI) last year while the Philippines was recording a decline, United Nations data released on Monday showed.

The national elections in May and the ensuing government transition, said local observers, possibly caused the hesitation, which was also exacerbated by the country’s allegedly unattractive business climate.

FDI flows into Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore in 2010 were estimated to have surged by triple-digit rates from yearago levels as Southeast Asia was among the regions that led the global economic recovery, the UN Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said in its Global Investment Trends Monitor.

Read more at Business World

Contraction for farm sector by Kathleen A. Martin

FARM OUTPUT contracted slightly in 2010, the Agricultural department yesterday said, as a yearend rebound failed to make up for three negative quarters.

“Full-year [production] was slightly negative,” Agriculture Assistant Secretary Romeo S. Recide told reporters.

Read more at Business World

DA chief: Last year’s farm growth down 0.12%” by philstar.com

The country’s growth in 2010 contracted by 0.12 percent in 2010, as adverse weather destroyed standing crops.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said today that even the fourth quarter growth of 6.35 percent was not able to counter the effect of three consecutive contractions on full year agriculture output.

“If we were not hit by (supertyphoon Megi), we could have registered positive growth,” Alcala said at a briefing.

Read more at The Philippine Star

Priority measures to be trimmed to 12 by A.M.G. Roa

TWELVE BILLS at the most will be pushed by Malacañang as priorities when the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meets later this month, President Benigno S. C. Aquino III yesterday said.

A Palace workshop last week drafted a preliminary list of 32 measures that was tackled by the Cabinet on Tuesday. No decisions were reached that day, however, as Mr. Aquino called for further refinements.

Read more at Business World

RH one of Aquino’s 12 priority bills for Congress’ approval” by Christine O. Avendaño, TJ Burgonio

The reproductive health bill is one of 12 priority bills that President Benigno Aquino III will be presenting to Congress for approval this year.

Mr. Aquino Wednesday said that the reproductive health bill, which he prefers to call the “responsible parenthood” bill, was one of the measures that he discussed with the Cabinet at a seven-hour meeting on Tuesday to firm up the administration’s legislative agenda for presentation to congressional leaders at the end of the month.

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

Philippines gets $1.5-M World Bank grant for flood planning”  by Business World

THE WORLD BANK has approved a $1.5-million grant for a study that will result in a flood control master plan for Metro Manila and surrounding provinces, the multilateral lender said in a press release yesterday.

The amount will finance studies based on recommendations of the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), which studied the devastation caused by storms Ondoy (international name: Ketsana) and Pepeng (international name: Parma) late in 2009. Citing PDNA findings, the World Bank said the successive storms caused damage totaling $4.4 billion, equivalent to about 2.7% of the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP).

Read more at Business World

Rice: Overpriced? Overimported?” by Solita Collas-Monsod

There’s a word war going on between NFA Administrator Lito Banayo and former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap (who was also at one time NFA administrator). And the differences in opinion have to do with whether or not the Philippines “overimported” rice, particularly in the last couple of years, and with whether or not the imported rice was “overpriced.”

One would think that since these are empirically verifiable issues, there would be very little room for disagreement — but as they say, the devil is in the details, e.g., are the mandated reserves (30 days) a minimum, as asserted by Yap, or a maximum, as implied by Banayo? Or even, were there 70 days’ worth of reserves when the Aquino administration came in (Banayo) or were there 50 days worth of reserves when the Arroyo administration left (Yap)?

Read more at Business World

Aquino exposes rice scam” byNorman Bordadora

Just one person or group appeared to have earned a windfall when the outgoing Arroyo administration allowed the private sector to import 200,000 metric tons of rice last year, President Benigno Aquino III said on Wednesday.

The Philippines, the world’s biggest rice importer, bought from abroad a total of 2.47 million metric tons of the grain for its requirements in 2010, an election year. The state-owned National Food Authority (NFA) imported the bulk of the country’s staple.

Read more at The Philippine Daily Inquirer

Roxas retains LP presidency, cites incoming role by Noemi M. Gonzales

THE RULING Liberal Party (LP) yesterday reelected as president former senator Manuel “Mar” A. Roxas II, ensuring his political future as an incoming aide of President Benigno S. C. Aquino III who was elected chairman.

“I am grateful for the trust of my party mates. We will help the administration with the best that we can,” he said in a speech during the celebration of LP’s 65th founding anniversary at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan city.

Read more at Business World

PNoy names Akbayan president as political adviser”” by Lynda Jumilla

In an unusual move, President Aquino has named a non-party mate as presidential adviser for political affairs.

The President announced his appointment of Akbayan president Ronald Llamas at a gathering in Malacañang on Wednesday night to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the Liberal Party (LP).

Akbayan is a coalition partner of the LP, and Llamas himself is a key adviser of President Aquino as well as LP president and former Senator Mar Roxas.

Read more at ABS-CBN News

Manay Gina beats GMA, Imelda in Lady Legislators race” by Eva Visperas

Pangasinan Rep. Georgina de Venecia was unanimously elected president of the 64-strong Association of Lady Legislators (ALL) on Monday.

De Venecia vowed to lead the initiatives of women legislators at the House of Representatives.

De Venecia served as president of the Congressional Spouses Foundation Inc. (CSFI) since 1992 when her husband, then Pangasinan Rep. Jose de Venecia Jr., was House speaker.

Read more at The Philippine Star

Petrus for Erap, Porsche for P-Noy” by Rigoberto D. Tiglao

LUXURY CAR aficionados estimate that President Benigno Aquino III’s Porsche 911 Turbo cost P7.5 million, not P4.5 million as he claimed. Either way, it is certainly an atrociously expensive toy, which after all he can play with for only a few hours a month. Nevertheless, the President said that his Porsche will “make him smile in the face of the many problems he has to deal with.”

Before his next joy ride though, Mr. Aquino should first debunk claims that it was a gift, and therefore violated anti-graft laws, by releasing to the press the car’s deed of sale, its LTO registration, the deed of sale for the BMW which he claimed to have sold to fund the purchase of his new toy, and finally the documents for the loan that he said he took out for the car

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

Con Yap