Tetangco receives lifetime achievement award from JFC

By Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) 

Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines presidents with past and present Arangkada Lifetime Achievement Awardees during the recently concluded sixth anniversary of Arangkada Philippines Forum at the Marriott Grand Ballroom. In photo, from left, are Ho-Ik Lee (KCCI), Bruce Winton (AmCham), Julian Payne (CanCham), 2014 Arangkada Lifetime Achievement Awardee former PEZA director general Lilia de Lima, PAMURI chairman Shameem Quraeshi, Tom Grealy (ANZCham), 2017 Arangkada Lifetime Achievement Awardee former BSP governor Amando Tetangco Jr., Hiroshi Shiraishi (JCCIPI), 2015 Arangkada Lifetime Achievement Awardee SGV founder Washington Sycip, AmCham executive director Ebb Hinchliffe, Evelyn Ng (PAMURI), Arangkada chief-of-party John Forbes, and JCCPI vice-president Nobuo Fujii.

MANILA, Philippines — Former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) governor Amando Tetangco Jr. has been awarded the Arangkada Philippines Lifetime Achievement award by the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) of the Philippines.

The Arangkada Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes individuals of any nationality that have lived and worked in the Philippines for 25 years and have contributed significantly to improving the country’s business environment.

JFC said Tetangco was chosen as this year’s recipient given his accomplishments as central bank governor which played an important role to the foreign investment community.

Among these accomplishments include managing inflation, the exchange rate, and the debt burden highly effectively, achieving record levels of reserves exceeding $80 billion, making reforms to increase the foreign banking presence in the Philippines, raising confidence of rating agencies to give investment grade ratings, and emphasizing financial inclusion and financial education for young people, among others.

“Being BSP governor is a role that had many challenges but one that I will always cherish. I feel very honored and also humbled to have been given the opportunity to serve in that capacity,” Tetangco said.

“Now that my term at the BSP has ended, I look forward to the work exemplified by private sector organizations like the JFC that proves public service is not a monopoly of the government.

The private sector has a tremendous role to play in improving people’s lives. I will constantly bear this lesson in mind as I move on to this new chapter of my life as a private citizen,” he added.

Source: http://www.philstar.com:8080/business/2017/09/22/1741357/tetangco-receives-lifetime-achievement-award-jfc

Commentary: Enhancing human capital in the 10-point agenda


What do we need to advance this country over the long term?

As we espouse in the Stratbase ADR Institute, the administration needs to take a strategic perspective in governing—a perspective that balances short-term needs with long-term requirements, and that looks at ways in which the different gears of the economy function together. In advocating this holistic view, we are happy to work with and participate in the initiatives of other civil society and business actors that are doing their part to encourage the government to take big steps forward across society.
The recently held Arangkada forum, hosted by the Joint Foreign Chambers, is one such initiative.
In other columns, we have looked at the importance of injecting dynamism into the investment environment and of monitoring the plans for the nationwide infrastructure drive called Build, Build, Build.
In this article, we focus less on ‘big-ticket’ works that, if implemented, could have an outsize impact on the economy, and more on shoring up key sectors that are fundamental to the future wellbeing of this economy. One good example is the education sector and the Philippines’ human capital. 

Preparing the Labor Force

With technological advancements, new jobs are created at a faster pace than before. By some estimates, around 65 percent of children who enter primary school today will end up working in jobs that still do not exist—even jobs that we have not even imagined.
To come to terms with this reality, we have to break down some of the walls that make us think that high-technology careers are niceties for the future, instead of a certainty that we should be managing even in the present. This reality means that we should already be equipping our children with technology skills that will help them to compete in the future marketplace—and, in doing so, we will help to avoid some of the potentially adverse effects of disruptive technologies.
The World Economic Forum’s 2017 Human Capital Report puts the Philippines in the 50th place out of 130 countries. The report revealed that the Philippines fared poorly in ‘deployment’, an indicator that covers people’s accumulation and application of skills in the workplace.
In the same vein, the Labor Force Survey shows that while unemployment and underemployment are slowly improving, they still remain high. In particular, underemployment, at 16.3 percent in July, reveals that people are seeking more work and better jobs.
However, several business groups have complained about the lack of skilled labor, again highlighting the disconnect between labor’s demand and supply. This only further shows the urgency of adapting the way that we train and capacitate our workforce.
During Arangkada’s panel discussion on Human Capital, a representative from the IT sector shared that to remedy the skills mismatch, several IT companies have taken the initiative to build relationships with the academe, providing teaching-training and helping design the curriculum to fit industry needs.
This should be a welcome move for students and their families, who will have a better shot at getting and excelling in good jobs after they graduate. This move could be extended to other sectors as well, as our industrialists can take proactive steps to ensure the next generation is ready to take on technical roles.
Beyond the technical side, however, it should go without saying that soft skills continue to be crucial. Some of these skills, like adaptability, will be especially important for an information-charged world. Others, like integrity and good interpersonal communication, continue to be prized for keeping organizations—whether government agencies or businesses—running smoothly. 

Arangkada recommendations for education

An Arangkada publication, distributed during the forum, outlines the group’s list of recommendations for the government’s attention. There are several recommendations, many of which are already present in some of the government’s planning documents. In support of further improvements to the education sector, here are nine recommendations (taken directly from Arangkada) that have not yet been integrated into the government’s plans:
  • Commit to an increasing public education budget of 4% of GDP. Double the average spending per studied (from 2010) to be closer to other ASEAN economies.
  • Narrow the skill-jobs mismatch by revising curricula and training and retraining the workforce for hard-to-fill jobs of the present and future economy. Support greater interaction between TESDA and the private sector.
  • Empower teachers by constantly improving their quality and curriculum to help students acquire the knowledge and skills required to enable them to get higher quality jobs. Apply competency based-standards for teachers and provide more in-service training, while maintaining their welfare and morale
  • Basic education and college curricula should increase study of science, technology, and math subjects
  • Encourage more college students to study fields needed for specialized positions (e.g. agribusiness, computer science, engineering, environmental science, mining, and physics). Tech more foreign languages in colleges to support the BPO and tourism sectors
  • Intensify investment in technology for public education. Complete the connection of some 7,000 high schools to the internet. Equip high school teachers with notebook computers and students with e-readers. Place internet-connected computer labs in elementary schools
  • Resolve administrative barriers (importation fees) to the donation of used computers by PEZA locators to the education sector. Hundreds of thousands of units could be given to help students learn essential computer skills
  • Change laws and rules to allow qualified foreign schools to operate and foreigners to teach in the Philippines.
  • Strengthen the Dual Education/Dual Technical System by expanding scholarships and involving the private sector in the curriculum development and internships.

Final thoughts

The Arangkada forum tackled many other issues, including industrialization, logistics, and agribusiness. If we had to choose a universal theme from the conference, however, it was the importance of forging partnerships and strengthening communication across different stakeholders, including the academe, the public sector, and the private sector, to bridge existing gaps and identify areas for reforms and cooperation.

Source: http://www.philstar.com/news-feature/2017/09/20/1740965/commentary-enhancing-human-capital-10-point-agenda

[OPINION] The investment and infrastructure challenges in implementing the 10-Point Agenda

Thinking Beyond Politics by Victor C. Manhit | September 20, 2017

In the medium term, the government is aiming to reach an annual GDP growth of between 7% and 8%. These rates are higher than we’ve seen in recent years, but our officials are optimistic. At the sidelines of the recent Arangkada business forum, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia assured us that these rates are achievable, particularly when the current restrictions on foreign investments are lifted. While listening to the presentations, it seemed as though all our economic officials are similarly bullish for what they can accomplish.

At present, the government is reviewing the foreign investment negative list (FINL), which is the official list of sectors where foreign participation in excluded. Revised every two years, this round is the first time that the administration will have a hand in deciding where foreign investment is welcome.

By all accounts, this government is taking a more liberal approach than its predecessors.

At a different event, Secretary Pernia even shared that he had sent the initial draft of the 11th FINL back to the drawing board — deeming the first round of proposed changes too “puny.” This aggressive push is more than welcome for our economy, and Secretary Pernia’s statements are certainly an encouraging development.

The new list is expected to be released sometime in the next quarter, as the next draft will still have to be presented to the NEDA board for approval. According to Secretary Pernia, the sectors that he aims to open for foreign inclusion are: retail trade, professions, public utilities, and contractors. Some of these sectors are also expected to liberalize in line with the rest of the region as part of the ASEAN Economic Community.

As important as it is, liberalizing the investment environment is only one step to attracting more investment in the country. Deeper reforms are needed if we are to propel our economy to greater heights. Which reforms are necessary to improve our country’s competitiveness and foster an even more dynamic investment climate? These were the questions tackled during a recently held forum organized by the Joint Foreign Chambers, called “Arangkada Philippines: Implementing the 10-Point Agenda.”

Arangkada is a Tagalog word that translates to “accelerate,” a term that aptly captures the pace of our economy’s expansion over the last few years. While the previous administration made significant strides in fueling our economy, it fell short in achieving some of its growth and development targets. President Duterte and his team are capitalizing on these shortcomings.

Even before Duterte gave his oath of office, his economic team had already laid out its 10-point socioeconomic agenda. The speed with which it had declared its objectives reflected the administration’s obvious commitment to bringing about swift and impactful reforms — reforms that have to be implemented if we are to turn our ambitious targets into reality.

For those who were not able to make it, the Joint Chambers have published their lists of recommendations, covering macro-economic reforms, competition, infrastructure, rural development, human capital, poverty alleviation, and science, technology and the arts, in the conference proceedings.

The decrepit state of the country’s infrastructure is often cited as the Achilles heel of our economic potential. Thankfully, with the launch of the Build, Build, Build campaign earlier this year, there is no discounting that infrastructure is a centerpiece project of our current leadership. As a result, there has been renewed interest in the infrastructure sector and in how the administration will accomplish its targets.

For its part, the Duterte administration has announced a list of priority infrastructure projects.

During the forum, it was encouraging to listen to our government officials talking about the big-ticket projects that they intend to break ground on or even complete during this term. These projects include the Japan-funded Mega Manila Subway and 13 bridges across the Pasig River, two of which will be built with Chinese grants. Given the state of our traffic situation today in Manila, all of these projects will be watched and waited for with great anticipation.

Yet, several of these projects are reboots from the previous administration — a sobering reminder that they had failed to advance despite years of gestation. As always, the devil is in the execution, not the planning.

While the government has promised to increase infrastructure spending, this should also be complemented with institutional and policy reforms. The approval of the National Transport Policy this year is a good step towards unifying all transport projects. The administration’s push to right-size the bureaucracy is also a welcome measure to address the fragmented institutional setup of various transport agencies. Over the long term, a mechanism should be in place to ensure policy continuity every time a new administration steps into office.

With great anticipation also comes great apprehension about whether the Duterte administration will be able to see its commitments through to the end and achieve them as planned. Thankfully, it has everything going for it: years of sound fiscal policy have afforded the government a wide-enough fiscal space to make these necessary investments. It would be a waste to let the best opportunity that we have had in decades slip between our fingers.

Source: http://bworldonline.com/investment-infrastructure-challenges-implementing-10-point-agenda/

PH to add more sectors allowing 100% foreign ownership

‘I want to be more aggressive and to be at par with other ASEAN countries,’ says Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia


MORE AGGRESSIVE. 'I want a more aggressive liberalization. The draft list is too puny in terms of changes. I want to be more aggressive and to be at par with other ASEAN countries,' Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia says. File photo
MORE AGGRESSIVE. ‘I want a more aggressive liberalization. The draft list is too puny in terms of changes. I want to be more aggressive and to be at par with other ASEAN countries,’ Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia says. File photo

MANILA, Philippines – The government is targeting to release a “shortened” list of investment areas or activities reserved solely for Filipinos by year-end, citing the need to liberalize more sectors and to be at par with its Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) neighbors.

To do this, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the Philippines will allow more investment areas where foreigners can fully own a company.

 “I want a more aggressive liberalization. The draft list is too puny in terms of changes. I want to be more aggressive and to be at par with other ASEAN countries,” Pernia told reporters on the sidelines of the Arangkada Philippines Forum 2017 in Pasay City on Thursday, September 14.
In the draft list, some areas were allowed foreign ownership of up to 60%, according to Pernia. “I said bring it up to 100% for certain areas.”

Although Pernia declined to enumerate the areas where 100% foreign ownership will be allowed, he said those that are being looked into are “retail, trade, professions, public utilities, and contractors.”

Former president Benigno Aquino III in 2015 issued Executive Order No. 184, or the 10th Regular Foreign Investment Negative List, which mainly kept intact the foreign ownership restrictions in the previous list. The government is mandated to release a new list every two years.

“It is being revised now. The final form will be more aggressive. It will be closer to ASEAN [neighbors]. The negative list is still a long list and I want it to be shortened drastically,” Pernia said.

Once his office gets comments from all government agencies by the end of the month, Pernia said the revised list will be up for review and approval of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board.

Under the 10th negative list, investment houses and financing companies regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) were allowed up to 60% foreign ownership.

“There is no opposition yet. It is [undergoing] staff work by NEDA, then we’ll show it to other agencies. Our argument is we have to be at par with ASEAN countries,” Pernia said.

Latest data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed net inflow of foreign direct investments slid by 14% year-on-year to $3.6 billion in the 1st 6 months of 2017. – Rappler.com

Source: https://www.rappler.com/business/182205-neda-pernia-philippines-sectors-foreign-ownership

Pernia rejects draft RFINL for being ‘too puny’

The Duterte administration wants to adopt a more aggressive stance when it comes to reducing the country’s Regular Foreign Investment Negative List (RFINL), according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

On the sidelines of Arangkada Pilipinas Forum 2017, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said he wants to allow 100-percent foreign ownership in certain sectors. 

While he declined to name these sectors, Pernia has already made known his position on the need to liberalize sectors, such as public utilities, the media and the practice of professions, such as teaching. 

“[We want more] aggressive liberalization…. They have shown me a draft, and I find it too puny in terms of the changes, you know. I want a more aggressive [list] and we have to be on a par with the other Asean countries,” Pernia said. 

“There are many things in there; they are not increasing it by 40-percent to 60-percent equity. [But] I said bring it up to 100 percent for certain areas,” he added. 

Pernia said this was the reason the revised version of the RFINL was not discussed in the Neda Board meeting on Tuesday evening. 

However, he assured that the revised version will be presented in the next Neda Board meeting. Pernia also said this will ensure that the President will be able to issue an executive order (EO) on the matter. 

Neda Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon told the BusinessMirror on Thursday that the new EO only has to do with the administration’s agenda for reform. 

The EO will be released to instruct agencies to liberalize sectors that they regulate. This means that the EO will mandate agencies to actively seek amendments to existing laws that further the liberalization of industries and professions. 

“Actually, the EO is an agenda for reform. It provides the marching orders for the concerned agencies to work toward the easing of foreign-equity restrictions of certain sectors,” Edillon said via SMS. 

Earlier, Pernia said once the Neda Board approves the new list, the President can already issue the needed EOs to allow more foreigners and foreign investments to practice their profession and do business in the country. 

These include allowing foreign professors to teach in various universities in the Philippines. Currently, private and public universities cannot hire foreign faculty members. 

This becomes a problem, especially in the case of Filipino-American professors, who, based on their credentials, are qualified to teach in the Philippines. But before they can teach here, they have to renounce their American citizenship. 

“The reason our universities are not highly rated—its only UP [University of the Philippines] that’s rated—is we don’t allow foreign professors to teach and be paid, get an item that is already standard in other countries,” Pernia said. 

The Neda is tasked to review and revise the country’s RFINL, which contains restrictions on foreign investments and the practice of professions based on the constitution and Philippine laws. 

The RFINL contains investment areas/activities where foreign-equity participation is limited by mandate of the Constitution and specific laws. It also consists of investment areas/activities where foreign- equity participation is limited for reasons of defense, security, risk to public health and  morals, and protection of small- and medium-sized domestic market enterprises.

The amendment of the list is headed by the Neda Secretariat, as provided for under Section 8 of Republic Act 7042, or the Foreign Investments Act of 1991, which states that amendments may be made upon the recommendation of the secretary of national defense or the secretary of health, or the secretary of education, endorsed by the Neda, approved by the President, and promulgated by a Presidential Proclamation.

Source: https://businessmirror.com.ph/pernia-rejects-draft-rfinl-for-being-too-puny/