08 September 2015


APEC Business Advisory Council expresses support for Cebu Action Plan to modernize financial markets
(CEBU CITY, Cebu) The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC) expressed its support for the Cebu Action Plan (CAP), which is expected to be announced by APEC finance ministers during their annual meeting here on September 10 to 11.

In ABAC’s report to the finance ministers, it endorsed the Cebu Action Plan, a multi-year roadmap for reforms for the Asia-Pacific region.

“Finance ministers and private sector leaders should collaborate more closely to expand funding for micro- and small enterprises and infrastructure, increase resilience of enterprises and communities, and accelerate capital market development,” said Hiroyuki Suzuki, the chair of ABAC’s Finance and Economics Working Group.

“These are the critical steps that APEC must take to catalyze the inclusive and broad-based growth that will transform our region into a strong and resilient engine of the global economy.”

Finance industry experts joined officials from finance ministries and multilateral agencies in several workshops held this year to identify initiatives under the Cebu Action Plan.

Participants included representatives of leading banks, asset management firms, insurers, pension funds, credit bureaus, and rating agencies.

Other participants included finance industry associations involved in three ABAC-led initiatives. The Asia-Pacific Financial Forum (APFF), Asia-Pacific Infrastructure Partnership (APIP), and Financial Inclusion Forum are also actively participating.

During the meetings, officials identified concrete programs to expand small and medium enterprises’ (SMEs) access to funding, promote financial inclusion, and improve the depth and liquidity of capital markets.

They also agreed to launch initiatives to develop the pension and insurance industries, increase private sector investment in infrastructure, and facilitate disaster risk financing.

The ABAC hinted on the private sector’s intention to actively support initiatives under the Cebu Action Plan.

The private sector also supported the establishment of a network ofexperts from the financial industry, multilateral institutions and government to build credit information systems that will allow more SMEs to use their transaction records to obtain loans.

They will also help improve legal frameworks to enable SMEs’ wider use of movable assets as collateral.

The Asia-Pacific Financial Forum will convene workshops under the Cebu Action Plan to promote policies and regulations that can facilitate trade and supply chain finance, as well as alternative financing mechanisms to spur investment in innovative start-ups.

Experts from leading global banks, industry associations and multilateral institutions have also committed to share their knowledge with policy-makers, SMEs, lenders and investors.

Another initiative envisioned under the CAP is the conduct of public-private dialogues to help the government design infrastructure projects attractive to private lenders and investors.

These dialogues will help identify regulatory barriers that hinder pension funds and insurance firms from investing in infrastructure.

To further develop the capital market, the private sector expressed its support for government efforts, underscoring its importance to infrastructure financing as well as in increasing the diversity and stability of the financial system.

The Asia-Pacific Financial Forum has developed self-assessment templates to assist governments in providing the information that investors need to increase their investments in the region’s capital markets.

The private sector also vowed to push for initiatives that would allow investors to effectively use risk management instruments, such as repurchase agreements and derivatives that would help them create deeper and more liquid securities markets.

According to the ABAC, the government should utilize the APFF as a platform to support the successful launch of the Asia Region Funds Passport, an initiative aimed at facilitating the cross-border flow of funds and regional financial integration. PND (as)

Palace announces new appointments
Malacañang has announced the latest appointments to government by President Benigno S. Aquino III.President Aquino signed on August 27 the appointment papers of Monina Arevalo-Zenarosa and Rachel Duran Ruelo, who will both serve six-year terms as members representing corrections at the Board of Pardons and Parole under the Department of Justice.

The President also signed on August 20 the appointment papers of Roland Calde as acting regional director of the National Commission on Indigenous People; and Celia Capuchino King as deputy commissioner/director IV, Ma. Rosario Charo Enriquez Curiba as director III, and Anian Reyes Salazar as director II of the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

Other appointees whose papers were likewise signed on August 20 were Department of Health Director IV Ferdinand Sangalang Salcedo; Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Director II Arnel Tancinco; Department of Social Welfare and Development Director IV Marites Mortel Maristela; Employees Compensation Commission Acting Deputy Executive Director Jonathan Targa Villasoto; and

Environmental Management Bureau (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) Acting Directors II Ma. Victoria Venturanza-Abrera, Cesar Siador Siador, Jr., Roberto Damatan Sheen, Letecia Rodrigo Maceda, Jacqueline Abing Caancan, Ma. Socorro Colina Lanto, Wilson Lim Trajeco, Ma. Dorica Naz Hipe, and Vizminda Amoy Osorio; Department of Education Director IV Roberto Moya Agustin, and Acting Directors IV Aida Nicor Carpentero, Ronilda Rosario Co, Josephine Galea Maribojoc, and Aida Custodio Yuvienco;

Land Transportation Office Director II Aminola Pagariongan Abaton and Director I Francisco Pineda Ranches, Jr.; Philippine Trade Training Center (Department of Trade and Industry) Executive Director III Nestor Policarpio Palabyab; National Meat Inspection Service (Department of Agriculture) Acting Deputy Executive Director Beata Humilda Olaguera Obsioma;

Bureau of Local Finance Government (Department of Finance) Acting Director II Niño Raymond Bersabe Alvina; Department of Trade and Industry Directors IV Ma. Belenda Nolino Queza-Ambi, Judith Canlas Poblete-Angeles, Linda Ong Bonia, Sitti Amina Ammad Maluddin-Jain, and Joel Batac Valera; Department of Energy Acting Director IV Rino Escobio Abad; Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (Department of Science and Technology) Acting Deputy Executive Director III Edwin Crisostomo Villar; and Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Antique (Department of Interior and Local Government) member Raymundo Roquero. PND (jm)

Liberalization of services would be good for the Philippines, says expert
(CEBU CITY, Cebu) Liberalizing the country’s services sector is actually good for consumers in the long term because it has a spillover effect on other sectors, such as manufacturing, a foreign expert said on Monday.

During a press conference on structural reforms, concerns were raised about the Philippines concentrating too much on services, and putting agriculture and manufacturing on the back burner. Services account for a huge percentage of the national economy.

Opening up the country in the area of services is not actually bad for the Philippines, said Anthony Nightingale, a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Hong Kong and head of the ABAC delegation to the APEC Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting (SRMM).

He cited the liberalization of the telecommunications industry several years ago, noting it was one the Philippines’ success stories as it benefited other sectors.

“Some of you may remember what telephone reception or communication used to be like in the country. That was a big, big problem,” he said.

“By just fixing that by introducing competition and opening the market was good for consumers. It was that which created the business process outsourcing industry, that now accounts for some 10 percent of the gross domestic product,” he said, noting the BPO industry has now turned out to be such “a huge provider.”

Nightingale said that although it was good to have a balanced economy to develop such areas as manufacturing, a country could also prosper by concentrating on services, like Hong Kong did.

“But the big point is that if you have efficient and competitive services in areas like logistics, in areas like telecom, power distribution, you can list out a huge number, it actually makes your manufacturing industry more efficient. Those two things are not incompatible, they are, in fact, together.” he said.

Meanwhile, Peter Perfecto of the Philippine Services Coalition attributed the country’s decision to focus more on services to several issues in the manufacturing sector, among them infrastructure and cost of power, which could not be addressed in the medium term.

Perfecto however noted a resurgence in manufacturing.

The business sector, he said, just has to continue building on what the administration has been able to put forward as well as strengthen the country’s business groups and joint foreign chambers.

“Aside from that though, there is an overlap of services when it comes to making manufacturing, as well as agriculture, more competitive,” Perfecto said.

“Increasing the performance of services and increasing innovation in services will actually also redound to the benefit of manufacturing and agriculture.”

Member economies of the APEC reached a milestone here on Monday when they agreed to form an Asia Pacific Services Coalition.

The coalition aims to promote an effective platform for the different sectors to increase dialogue and cooperation, and likewise, share experiences to boost growth.

The services sector accounts for 70 percent of the global GDP and when taken from the perspective of value adding, it contributes to nearly 50 percent of world trade exports. PND (as)

APEC economies form world’s largest coalition to push reforms in services
(CEBU CITY, Cebu) The 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) have launched the world’s largest coalition, aiming to further liberalize the services sectors in Asia-Pacific markets. The Asia-Pacific Services Coalition, formed by all services coalitions in APEC economies, is meant to promote an effective platform for the different sectors to increase dialogue and cooperation, and share experiences and best practices to boost growth, both in the domestic and regional levels.

“Cebu has to be proud because many years from now, when the services agenda, when trade in services across the APEC region would be reaping all the benefits, like creating inclusive growth, people will remember Cebu 2015, …where the Asia Pacific Services Coalition was born,” said Peter Perfecto, director of the Philippine Services Coalition.

Member of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Hong Kong, Anthony Nightingale, said services account for 70 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) and contribute 50 percent of world trade exports.

“These figures underscore the need for APEC to have a consistent, higher priority and attention, with the view to getting our regulatory houses in order,” he said.

Nightingale added that APEC economies should thus make the development of efficient services sectors imperative to achieve inclusive growth in the region.

The services sector is the largest sector of economic activity in most economies and is a major employer.

“If you have inefficient, uncompetitive (and) overprotective services industries, that leads to higher costs. That means your manufacturing products will be more expensive, your mining products, your agriculture products so uncompetitive,” he explained during a press briefing here.

The ABAC strongly supports the Philippine-led APEC Services Cooperation Framework with a view to make the services sector centrally relevant in the APEC agenda.

“What we are looking for are basic principles (in the framework). We are looking for transparency in government regulations, simplicity, consistency and predictability, (particularly) consistency at the application of regulations (and) a level playing field,” said Nightingale, who is also head of the ABAC for the two-day 2nd APEC Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting (SRMM) that ends here Tuesday.

“We are looking for speed because at the end of the day, time is money particularly for SMEs (small and medium enterprises). When they get faced with difficult, unreasonable regulations or long delays, it is very tough for them to deal with bureaucracy,” he added.

For her part, Jane Drake-Brockman, Senior Services Advisor at the Geneva-based International Trade Centre (ITC), believes that the services sector holds huge prospects for growth in the Asia-Pacific region.

“The big objective here is to really boost development in the APEC region. The services sector offers tremendous opportunities for poverty alleviation and inclusive growth in local communities and across all sectors of the economy. We are supportive of this thrust,” she said.

The services sector is closely linked to efficiency in all other sectors, Brockman said, noting that “if you want to be competitive in agriculture, fishery, forestry, mining and manufacturing, you want to make sure services inputs are efficient.”

The Asia Pacific Services Coalition will be convened initially by the Australian Services Roundtable and the United States Coalition of Services Industries, with the support of the Philippine Services Coalition and the Lima Chamber of Commerce.
“The coalition is very large, probably now the world’s largest coalition,” Brockman noted. PNA (ldv)

APEC 2015 organizers host welcome dinner for delegates to ministerial meeting on structural reforms
(CEBU CITY, Cebu) The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2015 National Organizing Committee and the National Economic and Development Authority on Monday night hosted a welcome dinner for delegates attending the APEC Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting (SRMM).

The welcome dinner, entitled “Here Comes the Sun”, was held at the lobby of Radisson Blu Hotel.

The night’s entertainment was provided by the Reo Brothers who rendered “A Medley of Fab Four Songs”, Maria Donna, the Dancesport Team of Cebu City, the Cebu Top Models, the Mandaue City Children’s Choir, and Lumad Bakasanon.

Lumad Bakasanon is a five-time champion of the Sinulog Festival that is held every third week of January to celebrate the Sinulog sa Sugbu in honor of Senior Santo Niño.

The event was hosted by Ms. Earth 2008 Karla Henry. PND (as)

President Aquino names representative Sarmiento as next Interior Secretary
President Benigno S. Aquino III named Western Samar Representative Mel Senen Sarmiento as the next secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), replacing outgoing Secretary Manuel Roxas II.

The President made the statement during the “Meet Inquirer Multimedia” held at the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s office in Makati City, after he was asked who would take over the post when Secretary Roxas steps down.

President Aquino noted that he wanted a “smooth transition” when Sarmiento assumes the post.

“The transition is being worked out so that he is not thrown into the deep end right away, and there is a smooth transition between Secretary Roxas and Representative Sarmiento,” said the President.

He added that Sarmiento’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the Commission on Appointment.

Sarmiento is the Secretary General of the Liberal Party.

The DILG’s attached agencies include the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology. PND (ag)