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  Thursday, 7 November 2013  

IN FOCUS: Environment and natural resources management

The area of environment and natural resources is often overlooked as developing countries like the Philippines place more priority on economic expansion. The Aquino II administration has nonetheless made integrity of the environment and climate change mitigation and adaptation a budget priority. Last year, it pledged to ensure the enforcement of environmental laws and standards, the protection and enhancement of forest cover, adoption of energy efficient lighting in government offices, and the rehabilitation of esteros. This year, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is the 10th largest department in terms of budget allocation, at PHP23.7 billion.

Given limited resources, it’s important to know which environmental projects work and don’t work. A new study by PIDS Senior Research Fellow Danilo Israel, for instance, sought to find out whether the reforestation program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had attained its objectives over the years and had helped mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on the forests and the natural environment. Results showed that replanting targets were partially attained, and there has been relative inefficiency in replanting activities. At site level, however, the study found increased incomes and livelihood opportunities. The study is among many undertaken by PIDS as part of the government’s zero-based budgeting approach, wherein existing programs are evaluated for their efficiency and effectiveness.

PIDS has explored other topics in environment and natural resources management, such as opportunities and constraints related to devolution to local governments, the impact of natural disasters on agriculture and natural resources, and the demand for agriculture and forestry graduates. Another important topic is the interplay between trade policy and environment policy. PIDS has recommended that the government pursue both policies in tandem, as there is “no inherent conflict between an open trade policy and good environmental policy.”

Visit the SocioEconomic Research Portal for the Philippines to access the latest PIDS research on environment and natural resources as well as related topics. Simply type ‘environment and natural resources’ in the Search box.





DRN 2013 Vol. XXXI No. 3: Social Protection Policies on Spotlight as Manila Hosts 14th GDN Meet

This issue of the Development Research News (DRN) covers the highlights of the 14th Global Development Conference in Manila organized by Global Development Network (GDN), an international organization dedicated to building research capacity in development. The Philippine Institute for Development Studies, the East Asian Development Network, and the Asian Development Bank partnered with the GDN for this annual conference which was held for the first time in Southeast Asia. For three days, experts discussed and debated why, despite the global growth phenomenon, inclusive growth is still elusive amid hundreds of millions of people living in extreme poverty. Experts also discussed how social protection policies could help ease income inequality.

DRN also marks an important transition in the institutional life of the country`s top development policy think tank, with Josef Yap, one of the country`s top economists, leaving the Institute after a remarkable eight-year tenure as president, and Gilberto Llanto taking over as the new president of PIDS. Click here for the full article



PN 2013-11: Health-enhancing Holidays: Challenges in Expanding Medical Tourism in the Philippines
by Picazo, Oscar F.

Medical tourism is poised to continue growing globally in the next few years due to combined economic, demographic, epidemiological, communication, and transport trends. While the Philippines offers better prices than its Asian competitors in surgical procedures, it continues to get a minuscule share of the medical tourism market. Why? What needs to be done to change this status?

This Policy Note provides a comprehensive view of the industry and discusses the global market demand and the drivers of growth. It then tries to understand the domestic industry by (a) exploring its demand and supply aspects, (b) undertaking an industry benchmarking exercise, and (c) examining strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Click here for the full article



DP 2013-50: Energy Market Integration and Energy Poverty in ASEAN
by Navarro, Adoracion M.,Sambodo, Maxensius Tri,Todoc, Jessie L.

Based on available statistics, between 127 and 130 million people in Southeast Asia lack access to electricity. At least 228 million still rely on traditional biomass for cooking and lack access to clean and modern cooking facilities, with dire consequences on their quality of life and human development. Discussions for an integrated Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) energy market cannot overlook this energy poverty situation in the region. In fact, the overall goal of ASEAN Energy Market Integration (AEMI) to achieve balanced and equitable economic growth and development for all countries in the region cannot be realized while people continue to suffer from energy poverty. This study maps the energy poverty situation in the region, and reviews the links between energy access and economic and human development. It also draws a connection between AEMI and the eradication of energy poverty, or attaining universal energy access, in terms of benefits and strategies, particularly with regard to mapping investment requirements and taking inventory of financing options. The study concludes with some recommendations for near-term actions. Click here for the full article



DP No. 2013-49: The Pathway to ASEAN Energy Market Integration
by Navarro, Adoracion M.,Sambodo, Maxensius Tri

Global experience in regional energy market integration presents broad elements of integration, i.e., binding agreements, physical infrastructure, standardized or harmonized rules of operation, and governing or coordinating institutions. The pathway to ASEAN Energy Market Integration (AEMI) will also involve creating these elements; however, this activity must be preceded by trust-building activities among ASEAN members. Trust should be built by candidly disclosing mutual gains from, and shared costs and externalities in energy resource development, trading energy products, market adjustments, and regulatory reforms. Shared databases and assessments could allow ASEAN members to formulate the building blocks of an AEMI regional accord. ASEAN leaders could then forge a regional accord for AEMI through 2030 with actionable targets and timetables. Click here for the full article.



DP No. 2013-48: Customs Brokerage Services and Trade Facilitation: A Review of Regulatory Coherence
by Llanto, Gilberto M.,Navarro, Adoracion M.,Detros, Keith C.,Ortiz, Ma. Kristina P.

The study looks at the rarely studied customs brokerage activity in the Philippines and its role in facilitating trade given the ongoing push to modernize customs administration. It analyzes how the customs brokerage profession is being regulated and synthesizes insights on opposing views on the importance of customs brokers in trade facilitation. The results of the study clearly point toward a declining relevance of the customs brokers` services in an environment where customs administration is modernizing, computerization is replacing the traditional, direct interaction of brokers with the Bureau of Customs, and a more transparent customs administration is emerging to efficiently process a significantly growing volume of trade transactions. Click here for the full article.



DP No. 2013-47: Toward Informed Regulatory Conversations and Improved Regulatory Regime in the Philippines: Logistics Sector and Trade Facilitation
by Llanto, Gilberto M.,Navarro, Adoracion M.,Detros, Keith C.,Ortiz, Ma. Kristina P.

This study articulates the results of the research team's conversations with regulators and desk review of policies in the sectors affecting logistics and trade facilitation in the Philippines. The study covers air transport, land transport, maritime transport, logistics services, and customs services. Successes in regulatory reforms as well as the remaining restrictions to better logistics and trade facilitation surfaced from the conversations with regulators and the analysis of existing rules and regulations. Many of the remaining restrictions need to be addressed through amendments to existing laws and even enactment of new laws. This is the case in the following restrictions: limit on foreign equity participation, moving international government cargoes only through flag carriers, cabotage restriction, and the port regulator acting as an operator. Other remaining restrictions can be addressed through investments, which is the case in capacity-constrained airports and congested Metro Manila roads, and through improvements in operations, which is the case in customs administration. Click here for the full article



DP No. 2013-46: Incentives Matter: Reflections on the Role of Incentives in Scientific Productivity
by Fabella, Raul V.

Depicting the Philippines as a prescientific society, this paper discusses how the environment plays a significant role in shaping the culture of research and scientific productivity. Such conducive environment includes having an adequate think space, a supportive and engaging critical mass, and most importantly, an efficient incentives system. The paper cites several examples of research institutions in the Philippines, highlighting the importance of collaborative efforts, research networks, strong leadership, and generous rewards in attaining success in their endeavor. It also mentions detriments to productivity such as implicit publication costs, the politics of fairness of equality, and the bias for quantity over quality. Click here for the full article.


Information technology fosters health innovations, says health experts

Policymakers should employ information technology (IT) to drive innovation in the country's health sector and make health care more accessible and affordable to Filipinos.

An expert from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) noted that there has been very poor adoption of existing IT assets in the Philippines when it comes to health, compared with other Asian countries.Read more


PHL needs to strengthen manufacturing sector

The Philippines needs to beef up manufacturing if it wants economic growth to be inclusive, according to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

The country's GDP growth hit 7.5 percent in the second quarter and was second to China due to the success of the services sector, particularly business process outsourcing, and the continuous flow of remittances from overseas workers. However, the manufacturing sector has been a laggard and must get a boost so that the Philippine economy doesn't have to rely much on the service sector and remittances, said PIDS President Gilberto Llanto during a recent knowledge-sharing forum on Industry Roadmaps and National Industrial Development at the House of Representatives in Quezon City. Read more


Setting the universal health care right for the informal sector

The challenge toward achieving universal health care coverage in the Philippines is how to extend health care coverage to the informal sector.

Under the National Health Insurance Program, the formal sector is mandatorily enrolled in the social health insurance program, while those in the informal sector, mostly self-employed and the near poor, have to enroll voluntarily. Coverage of the informal sector is still slow, according to a research of the UPecon Foundation " Health Equity and Financial Protection in Asia Project (UPecon-HEFPA). Read more


New online education mode tackled by experts in PIDS forum

Access to quality higher education is essential for young people to have a bright future. Quality and cost often go hand in hand, making opportunities more inequitable particularly for the less privileged. Working professionals also need to continuously acquire new knowledge relevant to their jobs and learn new skills to thrive in an increasingly competitive labor market. Apart from quality and cost, time is a major constraint for full-time workers as full-time schooling means a reduction in their income if they are not allowed to go on study leave with pay.

A new mode of delivering education called Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCS, which capitalizes on modern communications particularly the Internet and interactive learning systems, looks promising in expanding educational opportunities and addressing cost, quality, and time considerations. Read more


Hike ratio of health expenditure to GDP, says PIDS health economist

The growth of the Philippine economy is favorable to address the non-inclusivity of the economy in the aspect of health, said senior health consultant Oscar Picazo of state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS)

Economic growth makes it possible for the health budget to increase, especially the recent passage of the Sin Tax Law on cigarettes and alcohol, which can provide an estimated incremental revenue of PHP 84.3 billion in 2013, rising to PHP139 billion in 2016. However, Picazo pointed out that the absorption of these additional resources will be a major challenge. Read more


PIDS, DFA Foreign Service Institute in research networking deal

The country’s policy research database has added a new member following the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Foreign Service Institute (DFA-FSI) last October 23. DFA-FSI joins more than 50 institutions in the SocioEconomic Research Portal for the Philippines (SERP-P), an online electronic database of completed, ongoing and pipeline research studies related to economic development and policymaking hosted by PIDS. Under the agreement, DFA-FSI will link to the SERP-P website and upload its studies to the research portal. DFA-FSI will also add to the list of experts and resource persons in the SERP-P directory. PIDS President Gilberto M. Llanto signed the agreement on behalf of the state policy think tank, while Ambassador Angelina Miciano Sta. Catalina, director, represented DFA-FSI. SERP-P, which links socioeconomic studies implemented by various research institutions including government agencies and the academe, is envisioned as the Philippines’ main electronic repository of policy research. It can be accessed at http://serp-p.pids.gov.ph/.







Exchange Rate

The peso strengthened to PHP43.1825 against the US dollar in October, from PHP43.8318:USD1.00 in September.

For the time-series data on the monthly average peso-dollar exchange rate, please refer to this link:

Source: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas


Year-on-Year Inflation Rate

The country's year-on-year headline inflation rate rose to 2.9 percent in October from 2.7 percent in September. According to the National Statistics Office (NSO), the higher annual increase was mainly due to the heavily weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages, and clothing and footwear indices. Similarly, core inflation rate went up to 2.5 percent in October from 2.3 percent in September.

For the time-series data on year-on-year inflation rate, please refer to this link:

Source: National Statistics Office (NSO)




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