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Archive for October 2nd, 2008

EO on oil tariff trigger to be reviewed

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:26:00 10/02/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The government will review the implementing rules of an Executive Order that will remove or reduce tariffs on petroleum products as world oil prices go down, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said Thursday.

The rules were set in June when world oil prices soared to $134 per barrel. Prices are currently hovering in the $100-per-barrel level.

“What we can do is … review these guidelines. Ang direksyon po natin ay tulungan ang ating publiko and at the same time, hindi naman po malulugi ang gobyerno [Our direction will be to help the public, and at the same time ensure that the government will not lose],” Teves told reporters in Malacañang.

“With the study, we can revise the guidelines,” he added.

The implementing rules and regulations set “trigger prices” and corresponding reductions in tariffs.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-10-02T13:38:05+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Thu, 02 Oct 2008 13:38:05 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm10

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DTI eyes outsourcing of lab tests

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:46:00 10/02/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Trade Secretary Peter Favila has proposed tapping private laboratories to test milk products from China for melamine contamination to speed up the process.

Favila said the results of the tests would be available in a few days if these were outsourced, compared to leaving things up to the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD), which is under the Department of Health (DoH).

The trade chief said he has discussed the matter with Health Secretary Francisco Duque, who is set to publish the names of 15 private testing centers.

“The BFAD has its own limitations manpower-wise, so I said the best cure there is to outsource,” Favila told reporters in Malacañang.

The BFAD has banned all milk products from China amid fears these could be contaminated with melamine, a toxic chemical used to make plastics and which can cause kidney failure.

Thousands of babies in China fell ill and a number died from taking melamine-laced milk.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-10-02T13:37:15+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Thu, 02 Oct 2008 13:37:15 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm10

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OFW jobs in US ‘recession proof’–Andaya

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:22:00 10/02/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Since their jobs are “recession-proof,” Filipino workers in the United States will not be hit hard by a looming recession there, economic officials said Thursday.

The economic crisis in the US will also not significantly reduce the total remittances of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), given the booming Middle East economy, officials said.

“You have to look at their jobs. A lot of Filipinos there in the US, their jobs are, shall we say, recession-proof. They are not with
Lehman Brothers or AIG,” Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. told a news conference at the Palace, referring to American financial institutions worst-hit by the crisis.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto said that based on statistics, the sub-prime borrower, or those at higher risk of defaulting on their payments, includes Filipinos, Asians, and African-Americans.

“So yes, there will be an effect. But having said that, you also have a booming Middle East economy and you have many Filipinos in the Middle East who will be sending more remittances in the Philippines,” Recto told the same briefing.

Recto said that for 2008, the increase in OFW remittances reached 18 percent, overshooting the projected 10-percent increase.

“There’s no reason why we should expect OFW remittances to go down next year as well. It may not have the same 18-percent growth as this year, but still a substantial increase, substantial remittances are still expected next year,” he said.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-10-02T13:35:51+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Thu, 02 Oct 2008 13:35:51 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm10

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DA working to lower price of pork

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Retail price high despite lower farm gate price

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:21:00 10/02/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) is looking at ways to use consumer laws to bring down the market price of pork, which remains high even as farm gate prices have gone down, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said Thursday.

Yap said the farm gate price of pork has gone down to P85 per kilo, which should translate to a market price of between P145-150 per kilo. However, he said, the average retail price of pork is P170 per kilo.

“That’s about 100 percent. Who’s profiting from this? I think the retail price has no basis,” Yap told reporters in Malacañang.

Yap said he would call for an administrative hearing on the matter.

“We are going to start [coming up with] a suggested retail price of other products which we think are unreasonable,” he said, adding, “It’s part of consumer protection under [the] Price Act.”

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-10-02T13:34:30+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Thu, 02 Oct 2008 13:34:30 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm10

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Palace presses Congress on 2 tax bills

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P35-B in revenues seen–economic team

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 13:47:00 10/02/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang is pressing Congress to pass two revenue enhancement measures that are projected to generate up to P35 billion annually for the government to better prepare the country for a looming recession in the United States.

Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said that if passed, the rationalization of fiscal incentives would generate some P10 billion annually, while the rationalization of sin taxes would generate between P12 billion to P25 billion annually.

“We need more revenues to handle difficult times and therefore, we would like to pursue as a team, important measures, one, rationalization of fiscal incentives, the other, rationalization of sin taxes,” Teves told reporters at the Palace.

The two measures would pave the way for the removal of some tax breaks.

Teves said the rationalization of fiscal incentives would lessen the excessive investment incentives given to business activities.

The Department of Finance wants that the grant of tax- and duty-free privileges to businesses be limited to exporters and big-ticket investors. This will enable the government to recover billions of pesos worth of foregone revenues.

Rationalizing or “indexation” of the excise taxes on cigarettes and alcohol will enable the government to collect higher taxes, said Teves.

This will replace the current complex system of taxation of sin products by imposing a uniform excise tax rate on cigarettes and another on alcohol.

“There could be a situation [wherein] corporations [are] making money and not paying income tax and that’s totally unfair. Why should there be corporations making money and not paying income taxes?” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto asked.

Asked if the government was considering new taxes, Teves said: “That option remains open, but we would prefer working on tax administration and enhancement measures.”

However, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said: “Our team captain, the President, had said very clearly, categorically that there will be no new taxes up to the end of her term.”

Teves said the government was looking at generating P41 billion from the sale of its stakes in Petron Corp., worth P25 billion, and in the Philippine National Oil Co. Exploration Corp. (PNOC-EC), worth P16 billion.

On Wednesday (Thursday in Manila), the US Senate voted in favor of a $700-billion rescue package for financial institutions that have been hit by the sub-prime crisis.

The move is expected to pressure the US House of Representatives to approve the measure, which it rejected earlier this week.

Fears of a recession in the US have stirred volatility in the world markets.

On Thursday, the Philippine Stock Exchange Index (PSEi) closed up 43.24 points or 1.68 percent to 2,612.89 on news of the favorable vote by the US Senate on the bailout package.

With a report from Michael Lim Ubac, Inquirer

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-10-02T06:16:53+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Thu, 02 Oct 2008 06:16:53 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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US Senate OK of bailout plan lauded

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 12:11:00 10/02/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Monetary authorities welcomed the passage of a $700-billion rescue package for financial institutions by the US Senate, saying this could decrease the chances of a recession there that could impact local markets.

“The bailout has a very important real and psychological effect and that’s how market goes. A bailout will improve the chances of a recession not taking place,” Finance Secretary Margarito Teves told reporters at the Palace, adding, “We need to avoid a recession at all cost.”

“This is going to be a very positive factor in limiting whatever fallout there might have been. For the Philippines, the impact is clearly going to be positive,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines) deputy governor Nestor Espenilla said.

The Senate vote was projected to pressure the US House of Representatives to approve the rescue package, which lawmakers there had rejected.

US President George W. Bush proposed the $700-billion package to allow government to buy bad loans of banks and financial institutions and restore liquidity in the sector.

Unlike in the US, Espenilla said local banks have “no solvency issues.”

“We learned our lessons in 1997. We are prepared for it,” he said, referring to the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-10-02T06:15:43+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Thu, 02 Oct 2008 06:15:43 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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