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People's Journal

People's Journal

China offered 3rd telecom carrier slot

President Rodrigo Duterte has offered the People’s Republic of China the privilege to operate the third telecommunications carrier in the country as a means to end the existing duopoly in the vital industry, Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the offer was made during the extended bilateral meeting last week between Duterte and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

The Palace official said the offer to China was due in part to the country’s proven track record in the telecoms industry as well as in consideration of the warming relationship between Manila and Beijing.

“The President said China has the capital and the technology to provide efficient telecom service. With the number of subscribers that Chinese telecoms companies have in China, there can be no doubt that they are amongst the biggest in the world,” he said.

“Consider also the proximity and the fact that we want to avail of as much economic advantage that we could arising from the renewed friendly ties with China,” Roque said.

While no Chinese company has yet been designated as the third carrier, Roque said Duterte has instructed that all applications be filed and acted upon directly by the Office of the Executive Secretary.
“Upon submission of documents, it will take 45 days to decide whether or not it’s a go or no go. That’s how serious the President is in allowing a third party carrier to come in,” he said.
The offer for a Chinese company to be the third player in the telecoms industry comes after the Philippine government signed with an affiliate of Facebook to build a broadband infrastructure capable of providing a bandwidth of two terabytes per second.
On November 15, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), along with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and Facebook, signed an agreement for the Strategic Engagement and Collaboration to Undertake a Reliable and Efficient Government Internet (SECURE GovNet) project.

  • Published in Business

CCC Week highlights importance of science on climate change

THE Climate Change Commission (CCC) has lined up various events to mark the observance of this year’s 2017 Global Warming and Climate Change Consciousness (CCC) Week, as mandated by Presidential Proclamation 1667 issued in 2008.

With the theme “Aligning Science, Policy, And Practice For Climate Change and Disaster Resilience,” this year’s CCC Week  that  started on November 20 and ends on Nov. 24 is being held  at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila.

It will showcase expert presentations on climate data and the collective efforts of the different sectors of the society in pursuing the sustainable low-carbon and climate-resilient development pathway.

“This year, we are emphasizing the value of science informing policy and practice in the context of climate action. We want to highlight the significance of science in developing climate resiliency strategies and pathways, as well as in inspiring climate action from the different stakeholders,” said Climate Change Secretary Emmanuel de Guzman.

The CCC Week kicked off with a forum focusing on the ongoing efforts to update the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) and to prepare the country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The NCCAP is a comprehensive action plan outlining the country’s agenda for adaptation and mitigation from 2011 to 2028.
”The NCCAP review was done through several rounds of multi-stakeholder consultations. It will help the Commission determine the gaps and come up with measures to fill in it,” De Guzman explained.
Meanwhile, the NDC is intended to be the Philippines’ commitment to achieve the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement.  
“Our NDC will define our roadmap on how we intend to transition towards a green economy. It would represent the core of the country’s new development plan,” De Guzman added.

  • Published in World

Sugar-sweetened beverages tax too high for consumers

BANTAY Konsumer, Kalsada, Kuryente (BK3) expressed support to the Philippine Association of Stores and Carinderia Owners (PASCO) in its campaign against the proposed excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs).

According to BK3, over  300,000 signatures from across the country have already been gathered by PASCO to oppose the tax measure forwarded by House Bill 5636, part of the government’s banner tax reform program dubbed as “TRAIN.”

Based on PASCO’s computations, 40 percent of the daily income of store owners comes from the sales of drinks such as juices and flavored instant coffee in sachets. The proposal could double or even triple the prices of these products, which are consumed by ordinary consumers on a daily basis.

“Unsurprisingly, the poor view the proposed excise tax as “unfair”  and “oppressive,” a stand shared by manufacturers and retailers,” said BK3 convenor Louie Montemar.

The House of Representatives has already approved the “sweet tax,”  which imposes a P10 to P20 tax per liter depending on the source of the sugar content.  HB 5636 levies an excise tax of P10 per liter on drinks with local sugar and P20 on beverages with imported sugar or sweeteners.
“We understand that the government needs to generate revenues to support its programs. However, the proposed excise tax could only worsen the already difficult life of low-income consumers.  There are others development schemes and revenue options that could be considered,” Montemar said.
“One, to fund its ambitious infrastructure projects, it could shift to a Public-Private-Partnership model instead of appropriating funds from the country’s budget. That would free up government resources to help the poor instead of imposing additional burden on them,”  he added.
Montemar said the legislators can revise the excise tax proposal.  The office of Sen. JV Ejercito offers an alternative excise tax scheme for SSB’s that is worth considering.
“Also, instead of imposing an additional burden, government should focus its revenue-generation program on stopping revenue leaks from smuggling, illicit trade, poor tax collection, and corruption. A multi-industry study by the University of Asia and the Pacific (UAP) found out that illicit traders were able to smuggle at least P904.6 billion worth of goods into the country over five years. Revenue from those illegal activities could easily cover whatever revenue is generated from the SSB tax,” Montemar said.
According to Montemar, health concerns related to the consumption of sugary drinks and obesity are relatively weak. But data from the 2017 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World by the Food and Agriculture Organization showed that undernutrition and not obesity is the more serious problem in the Philippines..
He said the prevalence of undernutrition among Filipino children is 13.8 percent higher than the prevalence of overweight children at five  percent and the prevalence of obesity among adults at 5.2 percent.
“ We support PASCO’s challenge on the proposed SSB excise tax.  We are all consumers. This can burden millions of low income Filipino consumers.  We call on our legislators to prioritize the welfare of consumers,”  Montemar said.

  • Published in Nation

Senate asked to revise TRAIN

A CONSUMER’S group yesterday said if passed into law, the proposed Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) under the Senate Committee on Ways and Means chaired by Sen. Sonny Angara, will remove the VAT exemptions currently given for socialized, economic and low-cost housing units.

The VAT exemptions cost between P450,000 to P3.2 million per unit.

Rodolfo Javellana Jr. of the Union of Filipino Consumers and Commuters (UFCC) expressed fear that this “spells bad news for the 15 million overseas Filipinos workers trying to earn a decent living away from their families and the rest of our kababayans planning to buy their own homes.”

Javellana said that with the current prices for socialized, economic, and low-cost housing, even workers with a take home pay of P30,000 a month can barely afford a decently sized house and lot.

“If the Senate will agree to increase housing prices to anywhere from P50,000 to P360,000 per unit by imposing VAT, our OFWs and homeless citizens can say goodbye to their dream of owning a piece of property for their families,” he said, underscoring that buyers will take the full brunt of the tax burden as VAT in an after-sales tax.
The UFCC appealed to Angara to heed their call and delete the controversial TRAIN provision on housing for the sake of the homeless, which the government estimates to be at least 5.7 million families or more.
Javellana stressed that not all provisions of TRAIN is bad, since government tax collectors are good, running after tax evaders and corrupt tax collectors.
Housing the poor is a constitutional mandate but government has done little to comply with this, allocating a measly P15.36 billion for the Housing sector for 2017 despite a housing crisis, and instead relying on private developers to build houses for the poor in exchange for tax benefits.

  • Published in Nation
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