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People's Journal

People's Journal

Infra investment to boost growth above 6.5%

The Philippine economy is expected to expand over 6.5 percent in the current first quarter on the back of robust infrastructure spending, said First Metro Investment Corporation (FMIC) and the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P).

FMIC and UA&P said all indicators, except faster inflation, signal strong output expansion in the current quarter despite a high base in first quarter 2016.

“As major PPP (public private partnership) projects have commenced work and government-funded infrastructure spending rides high, the boost in construction activity should show consolidation of economic strength,” they said.

The government is ramping up public infrastructure spending to a record high P890.9 billion this year, or 5.2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). It targets to raise infrastructure spending as a share of GDP to 7 percent by 2022.
   
The report noted that the investment-led growth of the economy will continue in the first quarter, as robust national government (NG) spending and manufacturing output gains in December should spillover into higher employment and consumer spending.
   
It expects capital goods imports continue posting above 20-percent gain this year, resulting from robust manufacturing output gains in the last two months of 2016.
   
“We have obtained empirical evidence that manufacturing volume leads investment spending,” it added.
   
FMIC and UA&P are also banking on the high domestic demand and exports gaining lost ground providing a boost in the economy in January to March quarter.
   
“Besides, the move of exports into positive territory in three of the last four months should provide further impetus to the strong domestic demand outlook,” they added.
   
The Philippine economy accelerated 6.9 percent in the first quarter of 2016.

BPOs still driving ofc space demand

Continued inflow of investments into the Philippines will drive the rising demand for more office spaces in the country, said the country’s leading property consultant Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).

JLL Chief Executive Officer for Asia-Pacific (APAC) Anthony Couse told reporters investments in the country are not expected to slow down anytime soon, as Asia Pacific now exceeds the United States (US) as the global market.

“Foreign investors that are already here in the Philippines or in Asia Pacific are already comfortable,” he said, noting the Philippines has even the best returns after Australia.

Couse said US President Donald Trump’s “America First” stance has minimal impact on existing BPO businesses, but may provide challenges for new entrants.

He added the Philippines remains an attractive location given its low attrition and labor costs which are around 12 percent of those in the US.

A research carried by JLL indicated that the increased entry and activity of the BPO and offshoring and outsourcing (O&O) industries remained the driving force behind the need for space and the rise in property values.
   
The BPO and O&O industries accounted for 46 percent of office space demand, followed by the banking and information technology (IT) sectors which each accounted for 12 percent of leased space.
   
“The demand for office (spaces) remains very strong. Particularly here in Manila, the BPO industry continues to drive the office market,” added Couse.
   
In terms of location, Bonifacio Global City (BGC) has been the go-to-site for lessees, accounting for 45 percent.
   
Makati takes the next biggest bulk with 21 percent, followed by Alabang at 14 percent. Quezon City, meanwhile, takes a 12-percent share of the demand while Ortigas is at 7 percent.
   
Makati, however, remains the most costly in terms of rent. From 2016 to 2017, lease rates at the said commercial business district increased to between P1,200 and P1,500 per square meter, or an increase of 12 percent.
   
Rent in BGC also rose by 12 percent, as lease rates in BGC now average between P800 to P1,200 per square meter.
   
JLL (Philippines) Inc. said there is five percent vacancy across all Metro Manila business districts.
   
“Market remains to be favourable to landlords and tenants continue to consider pre-committing to space to mitigate higher real estate cost,” it said.

DTI sets Kapatid Mentor ME seminars

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will be conducting Mentor ME Seminars in 89 provinces nationwide for this year.

DTI has kicked off the Mentor ME Seminars on March 8 in Catbalogan, Samar.

Under the Kapatid Project, Mentor ME Seminar aims to scale up businesses of micro and small entrepreneurs through gaining knowledge from mentorship of business owners and practitioners.

The 11-week mentoring program have modules on product development, marketing, operations management, accounting, taxation, finance, obligations and contracts, human resource management, supply and value chain, succession planning, and business plan development.

DTI has partnered with Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship (PCE) – Go Negosyo for the mentoring program.
   
“With our strong desire to help the country’s MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises) and provide jobs to Filipinos, DTI and PCE-Go Negosyo conceptualized the Kapatid Mentor ME Program to serve as the entrepreneurs’ guide to a globally competitive enterprise,” DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a statement.

Better pill

All effective medicines leave unpleasant aftertaste.

But this is a small price to pay to cure a pestering ailment in the human body or the body politic.

There would also be an unintended side effect or collateral damage.

That the Duterte Administration’s unrelenting war on illegal drugs is no different.

From the start, President Duterte repeatedly stressed that the campaign would not be a pretty sight.
   
In fact, he said it would be a bloody mess.
   
But the illegal trade is not a pleasant sight either.
   
Some sensitive sectors are bound to be affected, including the tourism industry. 
   
Tourism Sec. Wanda Teo urged the media Wednesday to “tone down” coverage of President’s deadly drug war, complaining that reports on extrajudicial killings were scaring away foreigners.
   
On a trip to Thailand accompanying Duterte, the Teo insisted the Philippines was a safe destination but said journalists were making the country a hard sell because of their focus on the killings.
   
“Help us because you know, it’s really difficult for me to sell the Philippines, especially when extrajudicial killings become the topic,” Teo told Filipino reporters following the Duterte entourage.
   
Teo said tour operators abroad were “always” asking her about the issue, citing Asia and Europe as regions where people were particularly concerned.
   
“I would always say it’s safe in the Philippines,” Teo added.
   
“To the media, please tone down a little the extrajudicial killing (reports),” she said.
   
Duterte was elected last year after promising during the campaign to eradicate drugs in society by killing tens of thousands of people.
   
Since he took office nearly nine months ago, police have reported killing 2,594 people in the drug war while rights groups say thousands more have been killed in a state-sanctioned campaign of mass murder.
   
While most of those killed have been poor people living in slums, some foreigners have also died.
   
Duterte briefly suspended all police from the crackdown in January after it was revealed anti-drugs officers used the drug war as cover for kidnapping and murdering a South Korean businessman.
   
But, after describing the police force as “corrupt to the core”,  he brought it back a month later and vowed to continue the crackdown until all drug traffickers were off the streets or killed.
   
Duterte has over the past year become a well-known figure internationally because of the drug war and his caustic rhetoric against critics.
   
This week he  boasted that calling then-US president Barack Obama a “son of a whore” had made him famous.
   
He then used more foul language to respond to criticism from European lawmakers of the drug war, and called them “crazies”.
   
The Philippines, despite picturesque tropical islands and spectacular mountains, has long lagged behind its neighbors as a tourist destination.
   
This is partly due to decades-long Muslim and communist insurgencies, as well as frequent kidnappings of foreigners by Islamic militants.
   
About 5.9 million tourists visited the Philippines last year, compared with 32.6 million for Thailand.

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