19 May 2015

APEC News Releases

Palace hopes lawmakers would ‘vote for peace’ as lower house determines fate of Bangsamoro draft law
Malacañang on Monday reiterated its hope for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to make it to the next level, as members of the House of Representatives’ ad hoc committee began to vote on the proposed legislation.

In a statement sent to reporters, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said they are hoping that committee members would ‘vote for peace’ to help Mindanao achieve its much-needed progress and development.

“Today, the House of Representatives’ ad hoc committee is expected to begin voting on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. We reiterate our hope that the committee members will vote for peace, through which we can bring progress and development to Mindanao and better the lives of our countrymen,” Secretary Lacierda said.

In an interview with Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said it is the administration’s aim to have a sound BBL passed by Congress that will champion the goals of the peace process.

“Nananalig kami na sa kanilang pagpapasya, isasaalang-alang ng ating mga mambabatas ang pambansang interes at ang kapakanan ng mga mamamayan sa buong Mindanao,” Secretary Coloma said.

The BBL is an offshoot of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the final peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed on March 27 last year.

It intends to establish a Bangsamoro political entity in the south with an enhanced basic structure of government, replacing the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which President Benigno S. Aquino III once described as a “failed experiment.” PND (hdc)

President Aquino approves infrastructure projects worth P63.5 billion
President Benigno S. Aquino III has given the green light for vital public infrastructure projects worth P63.5 billion, which would further spur economic development in key growth areas, Malacañang announced on Tuesday.

The President approved seven projects when he presided over the 17th meeting of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board at the Palace on Tuesday, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said.

Approved during the six-hour meeting was the Road Improvement and Institutional Development (RIID) Project, under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The P6.9-billion project involves the upgrading of 339 kilometers of 10 national roads in the provinces of Benguet, La Union, Leyte, Iloilo, Negros Oriental, Agusan del Norte, Bukidnon, and Cotabato.

Also approved was the project restructuring of the World Bank-funded National Roads Improvement and Management Program Phase 2, which requires P28.9 billion. The DPWH has proposed the restructuring and reallocation of US$60 million of the US$232 million World Bank loan to assist Local Government Units (LGUs) in expediting the rehabilitation of areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda.

The President also gave the green light to the P2.6-billion Agno River Irrigation System Extension Project under the National Irrigation Administration; and the P13.4-billion second phase of the Balog-Balog Multipurpose Project, under the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (OPAFSAM) and NIA. The latter involves the construction of a 105.5-meter high dam with a crest length of 1.473 kilometers and a storage capacity of about 420 million cubic meters, as well as irrigation canals and other structures.

He also approved the P10.1-billion LRT2 West Extension Project under the Department of Transportation and Communications. This involves the design and construction of the extension for the existing LRT Line 2, measuring approximately 3.02 kilometers from the Recto station extending westward to the Pier 4 area. It includes the turnback track with three proposed additional stations – the Tutuban Station, Divisoria Station, and Pier 4 Station.

The Chief Executive also approved the P1.4-billion second phase of the Bureau of Fire Protection Capability Building Program, under the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), which involves the acquisition of 76 fire trucks to be deployed in selected priority cities nationwide.

He also green-lighted the P231-million Local Government Units Investment Program Supplement III, which will finance LGU investments in local roads and bridges; sanitation; drainage and flood control; water supply; public market; bus terminal; the rehabilitation, modernization, and construction of public facilities; hospitals; schools; telecommunications; information technology; ports; the construction and establishment of power generation projects; environment and tourism-related projects; and heavy equipment.
The program also includes revenue improvement and enhancement programs for LGUs. PND (ag)

Fair taxation in tourism taken up in APEC meeting in Boracay
(BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan) A discussion on tourism and taxation aimed at developing policies for a fair taxation system in the Asia-Pacific region’s tourism industry opened here Tuesday.

“I believe that properly constituted taxes are certainly a necessity and a legitimate fiscal tool for every economy. And a greater level playing field for private enterprises in the tourism sector should naturally contribute to it,” Javier Guillermo Molina, lead shepherd of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) tourism working group, said in his welcome remarks at the Paradise Garden Resort here.

Molina said the tourism activity in the region has been growing at a higher rate than the economy in general and it is one of the most dynamic economic sectors.

However, he said, this should not translate into an increase in taxes.

“The sector has proven to be resilient and contributed to the recovery of our economies. Thus, fiscal policymakers should bear in mind not only the short-term revenue but the medium and long-term, of its power to create economic growth and development,” Molina stressed.

While designing new taxes, policymakers should not impose arbitrary taxes and levies, as this is counterproductive to the economy, sustainable tourism development, and tourist arrivals, he noted.

These unfair taxes could affect the sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product, employment, and the development of micro, small and medium enterprises, he added.

Molina said policymakers should approach this case cautiously to ensure that it maximizes the growth of domestic and international travel and tourism in the region without creating hurdles in these activities.

He also suggested that economies start developing what the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) refers to as “intelligent taxation policies”, as opposed to uniform taxation.

This policy is aimed at ensuring the efficiency of the fiscal system by adopting it to the changing environment and the volatile requirement, he said, adding that this would be possible by keeping taxes simple, fair, and aimed at creating stimulus for growth.

“Taxes that do not end up killing the goose that lays the golden egg. Taxes that are correct,” he said.

There has been a tremendous growth in travel and tourism in the region in the past several years, Molina said, noting that last year saw the growth of travel and tourism in the Americas by 7 percent, and in Asia Pacific by 5 percent.

The development in regional tourism is growing well above average and this creates more jobs and more business for the people in the APEC region, he said. PND (as)

Boracay is now country’s cruise ship destination
(BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan) Boracay Island is now the Philippines’ new cruise ship destination, apart from being one of the best beaches in the world.

“We received nine cruise ship visits last year. Of the figure, four were maiden voyages from the world’s most luxurious cruise liners,” Aklan Governor Joeben Miraflores boasted during the international conference on enhancing tourism competitiveness in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) region held here Tuesday.

This year, 12 cruise ship visits, mostly by Royal Caribbean, have been scheduled, Miraflores added.“Right now, the national government has allocated a budget to develop a port in Caticlan in the mainland of Aklan to receive these cruise ships in the future,” he said.

In the same event, the local executive chief underscored Aklan’s huge contribution to the economy, owing to Boracay’s vibrant tourism industry.

”Translated into tourism receipts, visitor arrivals in 2014, as per the Department of Tourism Region 6 estimates, were able to generate P41 billion for the country’s economy,” Miraflores said.

Boracay Island is hosting the APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting and Related Meetings and the Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting from May 10 to 24. PNA (ldv)

Malay officials see APEC tourism discussion as important to Boracay’s redevelopment
(BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan) Local officials of Malay, Aklan regard the ongoing Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) discussion on tourism and taxation as a means to help them balance Boracay Island’s redevelopment and increase tourist arrivals.

In her welcome address delivered during a conference on tourism and taxation here Tuesday, Mabel Bacani from the Office of the Mayor of Malay, said the present APEC conference is very significant to such tourist destinations as Boracay Island.

The discussion, being held at the Paradise Garden Resort, is entitled “Conference on Enhancing Tourism Competitiveness in the APEC Region Through Alignment of Tourism and Taxation Policies”.

Although Boracay Island is just 1,064 hectares, the municipal government of Malay annually targets P392 million just to sustain its operations, which is mostly tourism-oriented, said Bacani, who also heads the secretariat of the Boracay Redevelopment Task Force.

“From the internal revenue allotment (IRA), we get a 20 percent share, but there are a lot of infrastructure needed at this point when Boracay is redeveloping,” she said.

Redevelopment, she said, means welcoming an increase in tourist arrivals in the coming years, keeping in mind the need to sustain Boracay’s development.

Sustaining also means preserving the island by moving and relocating non-tourism activities from Boracay Island to the mainland, she added.

“This is to ensure that our sustainable development in the years to come will enable us, not only to develop, but in fact develop as well, new designations not only in Boracay but also in the rest of the province of Aklan,” she said.

Bacani further said that although Boracay Island is only 1,064 hectares, it has been able to capture 26 percent of the country’s tourism market.

She estimated Boracay’s annual tourist arrivals at 1.5 million, noting that the Department of Tourism aims to bring in 2.8 million tourists in 2018.

Bacani also pointed out that while they look at taxation as a friendly tool to cover the demand for 10,000 rooms, they are also very cautious in developing their product and destination, as well as in sustaining them in the years to come.

Tuesday’s conference is aimed at providing a platform for open discussions of aligning tourism and taxation policies toward sustainable and inclusive growth of tourism in the APEC economies. PND (as)

APEC action plan to help small, medium businesses expand overseas through use of internet
(BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan) Member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) will develop an action plan that will empower small-scale producers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to expand internationally through the use of Internet.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Laura del Rosario, chair of the APEC 2015 Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM), noted that the Internet plays an important role in promoting inclusive growth in the region.

“We should capacitate our enterprises so they can level up their production, improve the speed of their production, and maintain the quality of their production,” she said during the pre-SOM2 press briefing here Tuesday.

Del Rosario cited as an example one Filipino company which, through the assistance of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), received bulk orders from an APEC member economy through the Internet.

“In other words, when you are there (Internet), when we connect you, the world suddenly becomes your market, or at least the APEC region becomes your market,” she said.

The APEC symposium on the Internet economy convened on Monday here to enable stakeholders to provide inputs into the APEC’s work program, which will be implemented by the ad hoc steering committee on the Internet economy over the next few years.

The Philippines is hosting 31 APEC meetings all over the country this year. PNA (ldv)

Philippines aims to conduct skills mapping studies across APEC
(BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan) The Philippines plans to conduct skills mapping studies that will identify employment and skill needs trends across the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) region in an effort to achieve inclusive growth.

“There are some jobs that have become…, that are becoming obsolete. And at the same time, there are now jobs that are emerging,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Laura del Rosario, who chairs the APEC 2015 Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM), said during a press briefing here Tuesday.

She noted that many graduates, even workers, do not find the right jobs as some industries give preference to those who are already property trained.

To address these issues, del Rosario said, the Philippines intends to propose a study across the APEC region on the obsolescence of jobs.

She said the country already has a talent mapping initiative aimed at enabling the workforce landscape of the Philippines, based on the APEC’s 21st century skills framework.

Meanwhile, del Rosario said it is imperative for the country to enhance its basic education in science, mathematics and technology, noting that companies will need more workers capable of dealing with the demands of science, mathematics and technology in terms of production.

Boracay Island is hosting the APEC SOM and Related Meetings and the Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) Meeting from May 10 to 24. PNA (ldv)