The Daily Roundup: 21 January 2011

NEDA Chief says 2010 GDP may be above 7%

The country’s economic planning secretary said on Thursday he was hopeful annual GDP growth for the fourth quarter of 2010 will hit 6.5%, pushing the full-year 2010 average growth above 7%.

The government has said growth last year was faster than its target of 5% to 6%.

“We have seen our economy steadfastly expand despite the decline in agriculture due to the El Niño onslaught,” Cayetano Paderanga told reporters.

Read more at ABC-CBN News

BOI expects sluggish investments this year” by Ma. Elisa P. Osorio

The Board of Investments (BOI) is expecting investment inflows to contract by 15 percent due to a lesser number of power projects for this year.

BOI managing head Cristino L. Panlilio said that investments may drop to P258 billion this year from the P302 billion a year ago.

Panlilio explained that the drop was because they don’t expect the same number of power projects to come in this year. He noted that major power projects and other big ticket projects were already approved in 2010.

Read more at The Philippine Star

Country deserves upgrade –Tetangco” by LDD

THE PHILIPPINES deserves a credit rating upgrade similar to Indonesia’s given the country’s strong fundamentals, the central bank chief yesterday said.

“We continue to believe that the Philippine economy warrants further credit rating upgrades,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. said in an e-mail when asked about prospects of a first half ratings action.

He pointed to “solid macroeconomic conditions, our commitment to monetary discipline and fiscal rectitude, our favorable external payments dynamics and our robust banking system as well as our pursuit of meaningful structural reforms and responsible macroeconomic policies” as arguing for an upgrade.

Read more at Business World

Net hot money flows hit record $4.61B in 2010

FOREIGN PORTFOLIO investments hit a record net inflow of $4.61 billion last year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) yesterday said, attributing the result to greater confidence in the country’s prospects.

The 2010 outcome for “hot money” — so-called due to the ease the funds can be brought in and out of an economy — was almost 12 times higher than the $388.02 million recorded in 2009. It topped the central bank’s $2.9-billion estimate for the year and the previous peak of $3.5 billion that was hit in 2007.

Read more at Business World

NFA shutdown eyed, says Abad” by Dennis D. Estopace

AMID fresh calls in Congress to investigate anomalies in rice importation in the previous administration, the government may shut down the National Food Authority (NFA) as Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad said three of its four functions may be devolved.

“The first one [subsidy function] can be best done by the Department of Social Welfare and Development [DSWD] through the Conditional Cash Transfer program,” Abad told members of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines in a forum organized by Finex on Wednesday afternoon.

Abad added that for the second function of the NFA, which is to procure rice from farmers, he said “there’s an emerging consensus to bring in private sector in the trading [of rice].”

Read more at Business Mirror

Beware of Sneaky RH bill provision” by Sarah Fabunan

RETIRED Bishop Teodoro Bacani has urged President Benigno Aquino III to reject the use of “abortifacients”, a method being pushed in the controversial reproductive-health (RH) bill.

He advised Mr. Aquino to be extra careful in supporting the measure, since it has sneaky provisions that promote abortion. “President Aquino must ask for the removal of these abortifacients. He must lead in the protection of the unborn child.”

Bacani said they’ve already told Mr. Aquino, in their previous meeting, about the presence of alleged abortifacients in the bill. He added that the bill offers large-scale government funding for artificial contraceptives like condoms.

Read more at Business Mirror

Ochoa welcomes Roxas’ naming as Aquino adviser” by Regina Bengco

EXECUTIVE Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said yesterday he won’t mind if former Sen. Manuel Roxas II holds office in Malacañang as chief troubleshooter of President Aquino.

“There’s no harm naman kung eventually, after the one-year ban, kung maging part siya ng Cabinet because ang sinasabi ko nga diyan, ever since noong nag-start off kami dito is we welcome all kinds of help that we can get dahil herculean task itong presidency,” he said.

Ochoa also said there will be no changes in the Palace set up because his functions as executive secretary are mandated by law while Roxas’ task is “in an advisory capacity.”

Read more at Malaya

Customs misses 2010 collection goal” by Iris C. Gonzale

As widely expected, the Bureau of Customs missed its collection goal for 2010 of P280 billion, its top official said yesterday.

Citing preliminary data, Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez told The STAR that the agency’s cash collections in 2010 amounted to only P227.7 billion, way below the cash revenue target of P241 billion. The agency has yet to disclose its overall collections for last year comprising of cash and non-cash component.

Alvarez, nonetheless said last year’s cash collections exceeded the 2009 cash collection figures of P198.9 billion.

Read more at The Philippine Star

DoJ: NPA, not AFP, killed UP botanist” by Nikko Dizon

A three-member team of the Department of Justice (DoJ) has cleared the military of any liability in the killing of botanist Leonard Co and two of his companions last November in Leyte, blaming the deaths on communist rebels.

The panel said Energy Development Corp. (EDC) was also liable for the deaths of Co, forest guard Sofronio Cortez and farmer Julius Borromeo because, as their employer, it failed to take extra precautions for them knowing that the area of its geothermal facility was a known lair of communist rebels.

The DoJ fact-finding team recommended that the Lopez-owned EDC, the country’s largest producer of geothermal power, be charged with reckless imprudence that led to the deaths of Co, Cortez and Borromeo.

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

Philippine fliers to double in 10 years: Cebu Pacific

Domestic air traffic in the Philippines is expected to more than double to over 40 million passengers in less than 10 years, one of the country’s major airlines said Thursday.

The rise of low-cost carriers such as Cebu Pacific Air already saw domestic air traffic jump sharply to more than 17 million passengers last year, said the carrier’s vice president for commercial planning, Alex Reyes.

“If we take a long-term view, with… per capita incomes rising along with the healthy economy, we will have a domestic passenger market of more than 40 million passengers before the end of this decade,” he said.

Read more at ABS-CBN News

Con Yap