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LET us be clear about an implicit assumption about the work of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI): Its objective goes beyond transparency of revenues, contracts, and ownership. Neither is the objective limited to generating domestic resources, done in a transparent way. The EITI’s distinct contribution is to promote revenue, contract, and ownership transparency, which in turn is a necessary condition to finance and build development, anchored on fairness, equity, and sustainability.
This entire story about a series of tobacco tax increases was triggered by House Bill (HB) 4144, which the pro-tobacco House leadership hastily approved in late 2016. This bill wanted to increase the then unitary rate of PHP 30 per pack to a dual-tier rate of PHP 32 and PHP 36, respectively. The reformers from both inside and outside government opposed it because the proposed rates were low and the two-tier system reverses the previous reform of having a single tax for all brands regardless of prices, thereby resulting in less revenues and allowing smokers who cannot afford the higher price to shift to the lower-taxed cigarettes.
Imagine being at a high school one sunny Saturday in March. Instead of being surrounded by restless sulking teenagers, you are surrounded by adolescent and adult learners who are smiling shyly and who look happy to be there. There is some nervous energy as there are visitors to observe the Alternative Learning System – Education and Skills Training (ALS-EST) teaching-learning sessions, but the excitement and pride of everyone – from the school leaders to the teachers and learners – are more palpable.
I address this piece mainly to the 81% of Filipinos who are satisfied with the general performance of the current administration. (See the first quarter 2019 Social Weather Stations or SWS survey, which says that the net satisfaction rating of the national administration is a record-high score of +72, broken down into 81% of Filipinos satisfied, 9% unsatisfied, and 10% neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.)
Widening trade deficits are usually seen as a policy problem, and understanding the pattern and sources of the deficit is important to help us formulate the correct policy advice. From a macro perspective, deficits are explained partly by economic growth and changes in relative prices measured by real effective exchange rates. Microeconomic factors also play a role, particularly the declining competitiveness of our industries and failure to upgrade and move up the global value chain.
My main message in “The Decline of Political Parties” (BusinessWorld, 1 April 2019) is that path dependence can explain how Philippine political parties have been emasculated. That is, our colonial history has determined the path of our political parties, and it will be difficult to reverse this.
As May elections draw near, legislators are faced with the daunting task of reflecting upon -- and marketing -- their legacies. Two candidates of note are Senator Sonny Angara and Senator JV Ejercito, both of whom authored bills instituting universal health care in the Philippines. President Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11223, the Universal Health Care Act, in late February 2019.
The role of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in development has not been fully articulated. This essay attempts to show why it is necessary to provide budgetary support for the PCG, but it is equally important to determine where the priorities should be.
Growing old, we like to meet old friends. We “junior senior citizens” (a term coined by Nenette, a college friend of my late wife Mae) enjoy the luxury of time to get together for coffee or dinner. But in the case of Fides (our friendship dating back to almost half a century ago), we had our last couple of appointments at the Manila regional trial court.
The bill to substantially increase the tobacco tax has gained momentum. President Rodrigo Duterte and the Cabinet have certified as urgent Senate Bill 1599, sponsored by Senator Manny Pacquiao, which will increase the current rate of tobacco tax from P35 to P60. Senators JV Ejercito and Wyn Gatchalian have filed separate bills that have higher tobacco tax rates than the Pacquiao bill.
The Philippine Senate has two remaining session days before it adjourns this week, to give way to the election period. It resumes session after the May elections, and from there, has nine session days to wrap up its work. In short, the window for legislation is narrow.
In January 1975, the Department of Health (DoH) and the Philippine Cancer Society (PCS) launched the first ever National Cancer Consciousness Week. The week-long campaign held every third week of January was instituted as a means to educate Filipinos on the dangers of cancer and raise awareness on the treatment and prevention of the disease.
Last Jan. 18, leaders of 30 Philippine medical societies gathered to call for the Senate passage of a bill increasing the excise tax on cigarettes to at least P60 per pack. “The increase will provide crucial funding for the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act that will benefit the current and future generations of all Filipinos from womb to tomb,” went their manifesto.
One of the top Philippine stories of 2018 -- not only in sports but also in national affairs -- is the magical run of the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons. For a few weeks, the Maroons became headline news as the team clawed its way back from elimination and upset heavy contenders toward reaching the championship series.
One of the most difficult pieces of legislation that the Philippine Congress has tackled is Reproductive Health (RH). The book titled The RH Bill Story: Contentions and Compromises, authored by Marilen J. Dañguilan (Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2018) narrates and explains how it is so. And more importantly, the book shows how to overcome such adversity in making the RH Bill a law.
A sweet gentleman, a gentle soul, a kind and humble man, a dedicated revolutionary. These are but a few of the beautiful words to describe Rol.
The University of the Philippines (UP) is again in the news.
The Universal Health Care (UHC) bill is at its final stages. After a couple of preparatory meetings during the Congress break last October, the Bicameral Conference Committee is officially meeting tomorrow to reconcile the differences of the Senate and the House versions. At this rate, we can expect that the UHC bill will be signed into law before the year ends.
INUTILE. That’s how I felt at my beautiful sister Mae’s bedside when she died in 1995, barely a year since arriving back home from her chemotherapy in Michigan. She had two daughters -- Ynna Belen and Angela Jed, just as beautiful as her. She had beautiful dreams ...
It is unfortunate that some quarters have criticized Senator Sonny Angara for his role in shepherding the tax reform legislation, known as TRAIN, in the Senate. These critics have even called on voters to reject Senator Angara, who is seeking reelection in 2019.
A sure way to bring down prices in any market is to replace monopoly with open competition. And if that market supplies a good that almost everyone relies on, then the cascading impact of lower prices will surely pull the inflation rate down.
The House of Representatives passed the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High-Quality Opportunities or TRABAHO Bill in early September. The first major component of TRABAHO is the reduction of the corporate income tax (CIT) rate to 20% over a period of nine years, starting 2021.
August and September usually mark the peak of the Marcos martial law debates.
I had an opportunity to watch Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral over the past week. Blending history with some fictional elements, it is director Jerrold Tarog’s follow-up to 2015’s Heneral Luna and centers around the “Boy General,” Gregorio del Pilar, during the Philippine-American War. Being an outspoken millennial and the self-professed cinephile that I am, I’m taking this opportunity to share my thoughts about the film.
It is said that reason and enlightenment have taken a beating amid the rise of the Trumps, Erdogans and Dutertes. These belligerent strongmen have polarized society. The consequence of extreme polarization is the emergence of biases and blinders from all sides.
A previous piece showed that our greenhouse gas reduction commitment to the Paris climate treaty meant a gradual 2.02% annual reduction in fossil-based electricity generation, for a total reduction of 23.3% by 2030 compared to 2017 levels. The annual reduction required by this low-carbon path is only half the 4% natural attrition rate of coal plants, if they are retired at the end of their 25-year useful life. This provides the country with some flexibility.
My two previous pieces (BW, July 16 and July 23, 2018) discussed four flaws in the DoE’s current power development plan that led it to overestimate the country’s 2040 baseload requirements by more than 100%.
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