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The Philippines Aims to Raise $23.7 Billion for Funding and Budget Deficit
by Philippine Resources - February 10, 2021
In bridging a planned budget deficit and funding priority projects in 2021, the Philippines aims to raise $23.71 billion from external sources.
According to the Department of Finance (DOF), this budget was 39% higher than the government raised last year. The DOF added that for allocation, $8.06 billion will go to the budget support purposes, while the rest to finance projects.
The budget for this year of 4.5 trillion pesos ($93.7 billion) will be used for economic recovery and for the purchase of millions of doses of vaccines. The government has targeted a full-year growth of 6.5%-7.5% for the economy, which contracted by a record of 9.5% in 2020.
In addition, the government this year hopes to secure $7.67 billion in grants and loans from multilateral institutions, $5.5 billion from the debt markets, and $10.54 billion from bilateral sources.
Philippine Resources - May 29, 2019
Australian Embassy Hosts the Annual Journalists’ Reception
By Marcelle P. VillegasEvery year, the Australian Embassy in the Philippines hosts the Annual Journalists’ Reception with a goal to provide a dialogue and interaction between Australian companies in the Philippines and the local media. Last 4th April 2019, the event was held at the residence of the Australian Ambassador in Makati City.Present during the Reception were several business executives from various Australian companies representing banking, finance, mining, shipbuilding, telecommunication, education sector and more. The first part of the Annual Journalists’ Reception was a business forum that was led by Ms Elodie Journet who is the Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner - Austrade. Other representatives from the Australian Embassy in the Philippines were Mr Mat Kimberley (Deputy Head of Missions), Ms Clare Duffield (Counsellor - Political and Public Diplomacy), Ms Nardia Simpson (Counsellor - Economic), Ms Kerrie Anderson (Counsellor - Development), Grp Capt. Ian Goold, CSC (Defence Attache), Det. Supt. Richard Stanford, APM (Senior Liaison Officer - AFP), Ms Elizabeth Carter (Counsellor and Chief Migration Officer), Ms Cristina Mojica (Counsellor and Chief Migration Officer), and Ms Jenni McEwin (First Secretary Economic).The speakers during the forum were Ms Anna Green (CEO, ANZ Bank Phils.), Mr Wayne Murray (President, Austal), Mikhail Jao (Marketing Manager, IDP Education Phils. Office), Eric Yaptangco (Division Director, Macquarie Phils.), Bradley Norman (Country Director, OceanaGold Phils.), Mark Woolfrey (Exec. GM, QBE Insurance), Brett McPhee (GM, Site Skills Training Phils.), Russell Claxton (CEO, TWPS), and Mark Richardson (VP, TWPS). Other companies that participated were Crone, GHD, Greenstone, Qantas, and Telstra.The discussion was centered on how Australian companies are helping the Philippines in economic development and other aspects like defence, education, mining, environment and more. Mr Wayne Murray, President and GM of Austal Philippines stated that they are working with the Philippine Navy and looking into a contract to build and provide six offshore patrol vessels (OPVs). This is in relation to the August 2018 Nikkei report that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said that they would be sourcing six OPVs from Austal. “Because it’s an offshore patrol vessel, as the name implies, it’s offshore, but it’s not going to be for international use. It’s for inter-island protection,” according to Mr Murray. He noted that OPVs can be used in travelling in areas like Benham Rise and the Spratly Islands. Philippine Resources Journal interviewed Austrade’s Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner, Ms Elodie Journet about how Australia is helping the mining sector in the Philippines given that the industry has been under a lot of setbacks and is strongly contradicted by anti-mining lobbyists. We also asked her about her views about mining in general. Ms Journet said, “We [Australia], truly believe in sustainable mining. As a country, we have proven that you can actually have sustainable mining and we can have mining in environment. We've had very strong standards as well to it, to ensure that you can actually operate and protect the environment as well. For that, we've been very keen on looking at collaborating with the Philippine government and to ensure that we share our knowledge, share our standards, share also some of our latest technologies.” She adds, “We've got a very strong industry around mining, technology, equipment and services, so we've got a whole range of companies in Australia that are very keen on coming to the Philippines and collaborating as well.” With regards to best practices in mining, she states, “You've already got some really good mining operations here in the Philippines that had been winning awards as well in terms of environmental protection. Thus, I think it is just a matter of also being able to highlight some of those successes and also continue to build on ensuring that in order to protect the environment further.” What were the measures done by Australia in order to help the Philippine mining industry? Ms Journet said, “We have taken delegations from DENR to Australia. Every year, we host the International Mining Conference in Melbourne. The conference is all about presenting some of the latest techniques and sharing of information. We took the delegation from DENR there to be able to see some of our operations in Australia.”“There are many areas in Australia that are successful mining operations and right next to it you have great agricultural land. We've got great tourism industries as well so it's a great way to actually look at how can you contribute to the community as well. Indeed, mining and agriculture can co-exist.” She added, “I think the Philippines has already got some great guidelines in mining. It is really looking at how do you help the industry follow some of the implementation as well. We are happy to partner with the Philippines in that way.” This year’s Journalists’ Reception is the first one with the new Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, His Excellency Steven J. Robinson AO. Although this event was not his first time to have a gathering at his residence, the Annual Journalists’ Reception this year is somehow one of the first instances when he faced a wider range of journalists from various media outlets, publications and TV networks. During an open forum with him, the Ambassador eloquently answered a battery of questions from his guests that touched many subject matters about politics, agriculture, economics, defence, his first encounter with the Philippine President, Australia’s standing about the South China Sea dispute, his impression of the Philippines, and more.Ambassador Robinson arrived here in the Philippines early in January 2019, two weeks before the celebration of Australia Day (24 January 2019). During the Annual Journalists’ Reception, he mentioned that one of the first things he did as ambassador was to visit Marawi in order to continue the work that was endorsed to him by the former Australian Ambassador, Honourable Amanda Gorely. As of October 2018, Australia increased their support to Marawi’s recovery and rehabilitation to Php975 million (AUD25 million). Australia’s effort aims to bring long-term peace and stability in the southern Philippines following the siege of Marawi City in May - October 2017.  The Ambassador shared that his first visit to the Philippines was around 40 years ago during his college years. “At that time I was struck by the archipelago’s natural beauty, I experienced the warmth of the Filipino people and felt the dynamic energy of the cities of Manila, Cebu and Zamboanga. It seized my attention and I have returned many times over the intervening years. So it is a great honour and a privilege to return here now as Australia’s new Ambassador to the Philippines.” Ambassador Robinson is a senior career officer (Deputy Secretary level) in the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio. In 2009, he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) “for service to Australia’s international interests through a significant and sustained contribution”. The Ambassador holds a BA (Hons) and Diploma in Education from the University of Sydney. - - -References: Mogato, Anna Gabriela A. (8 April 2019). “Australian firm eyes Philippine Navy contract for patrol vessels”. Rappler. “Australia Increases Support to PHP 975 Million For Marawi Recovery”Retrieved from https://philippines.embassy.gov.au/mnla/medrel181026.html  H.E. Steven J. Robinson’s speech during Australia Day Celebration, 24 January 2019Retrived from https://philippines.embassy.gov.au/mnla/speech20190124.html
Philippine Resources - January 20, 2021
Dominguez Says Economy May Soon Recover
The economy of the Philippines may soon recover this year.According to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, this is in part due to business reopening and mass transportation increasing. “We expect to see additional improvements in the last quarter of 2020 as we have been progressively reopening businesses and accessibility to mass transportation,” Dominguez said. In the last year, the pandemic has cost Metro Manila huge losses such as P2.1 billion in wages, although the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) has eased this blow a bit. “To be completely honest, some of the jobs lost may never return,” Dominguez said. “The pandemic, however, provided us with the opportunity to accelerate our shift to digitalization in order to meet the demands of the emerging new economy. This will create new jobs that will require new skills.”Dominguez added that among the measures that can lift the economy up is the enactment of the P4.506 trillion national budget and the extension of the validity of the Bayanihan 2 and the 2020 appropriations. Other measures included the Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) bill (which would allow banks to offload their souring loans and assets) and the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE) bill (which would provide businesses with the biggest economic stimulus package). Another economic stimulus package is the Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) bill that aims to form a special holding company to have government financial institutions to infuse equity.
Philippine Resources - December 21, 2020
Nickel, EVS moving forward together
Philippine Nickel Industry Association president Dante Bravo speaks about the role of nickel in growing the e-vehicle industry at the 7th Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit convened by the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines. Bravo says the Nickel Industry is poised to supply the growing demand for nickel in lithium ion batteries powering electric vehicles. The summit, held at MoA SMX, aims to push EVs and its related industries as drivers of sustainable growth. Smartmatic vowed to continue providing a secure voting technology and transparent election system to the Philippines as the government begins selecting a new automated election system (AES).“Smartmatic has been a leader in providing an efficient, secure and transparent automated election system in many counties and in the Philippines. We want to continue this and strengthen our partnership with the government in providing a secure, faster, and credible election system,” said Ramaakanth Sake, president of Smartmatic Asia-Pacific.On 15 July, Smartmatic joined in the AES Technology Fair of the Department of Department of Information and Communications Technology, which allow the various local and global providers to present their concept or prototype of an alternative AES, which may be used at the 2022 national and local elections.At the tech fair, Smartmatic presented its new direct recording electronic voting machines, which utilize a touchscreen to eliminate the need for paper ballots and reduce the likelihood of read errors. According to Smartmatic, the touchscreen would need a voter’s fingerprint before it can be used.The system gives real-time feedback in case of overvoting, so the voters may change their ballot before casting the vote. As per the requirements of the Commission on Elections the machine will print out a receipt, which can then be used as reference in case a manual recount is needed.Source: https://tribune.net.ph/index.php/2019/07/18/briefs-nickel-evs-moving-forward-together/?fbclid=IwAR3Lv__unzg0UVTGSY_LXRmurdnIWTHvwlGFoGMqSjL-fGo5hdFz1ZMKcis
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Philippine Resources - April 12, 2021
Masbate Companies Win PMIEA Awards
In the recently concluded 2020 Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Awards (PMIEA), the Masbate Gold Project's two companies, Filminera Resources Corp. and Phil. Gold Processing & Refining Corp., won four awards in the Best Mining Forest and Safest Mine categories. PMIEA recognizes mining companies that demonstrate best practices in safety and health care, environmental conservation, and community sustainability. Filminera was awarded the Platinum Achievement Award in Surface Mining Operation Category by the PMIEA Selection Committee, as well as the Titanium Achievement Award in Mineral Exploration Category and the Safest Mineral Exploration – A Category. PHL Gold, on the other hand, won the PMIEA Titanium Achievement Award in the Mineral Processing Category from the PMIEA Selection Committee. Both organizations have active initiatives aimed at environmental protection, ecological sustainability, and advanced land use planning. The reforested and rehabilitated areas are now home to a wide variety of flora and fauna habitats as a result of these upland and coastal reforestation activities. Apart from promoting sustainability through conservation projects, the companies have also aided social growth in the local areas through a variety of livelihood initiatives. Fast-growing and natural forest tree species were used to revegetate the Syndicate Waste Dump, which was undergoing restoration.
Philippine Resources - April 12, 2021
Mining Industry Anticipates Receiving a ‘Passing Score' on the EITI's Transparency Validation.
The Philippines' Chamber of Mines (COMP) expressed hope in completing the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) validation process, which began on April 1, 2021. The validation is an evaluation of adopting countries' willingness to follow EITI requirements, and it is the second to be completed since 2017. The countries will be graded on three aspects of the validation process: 1) stakeholder engagement—involvement of all government, business, and civil society stakeholders 2) transparency—requirements for accountability, such as a beneficial ownership registry; and 3) results and impact—addressing national interests in natural resource governance. The EITI Board is scheduled to report the final outcome of the validation in the fourth quarter of 2021. The Philippines was found to have made "satisfactory progress" in the first validation in 2017, making it the first EITI adopting country to reach such status, according to COMP. The industry remains committed to the EITI benchmark, with 95 per cent of active mines filing their accounts, according to COMP Executive Director Ronald Recidoro. “The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines looks forward to the validation. We hope to still be at the forefront of this transparency initiative just as we were in 2017 under the old standard,” he said. COMP member-companies, at the very least, had been doing disclosure monitoring on their own, according to Recidoro, even before it became mandatory. “We have done a lot to move transparency reporting in the Philippines, including reporting on gender, environmental protection, etc., which is only now being made mandatory under the new standard,” he said. The validation, according to Bantay Kita, a civil society delegate to the Philippine EITI Multi-Stakeholder Community (PH-EITI MSG), is an opportunity to address problems in adopting the EITI and how it can be more applicable at both the national and sub-national levels. “Over the past months, the PH-EITI MSG has been working to gather all evidence to show progress in the Philippines. All stakeholders, not only civil society, have contributed to communicating EITI data and initiated outreach activities from local communities to policy-makers,” Vincent Lazatin, national coordinator of Bantay Kita, said in a news statement. “Stakeholders involved in the validation process would be honest and able to articulate what really is happening on the ground with the transparency initiative of extractive industries in our country. Beyond aiming to be on top, the one of greater value is knowing the real score, the PH-EITI’s actual situation, and how we can perform better,” said Aniceta Baltar, a civil society representative to the PH-EITI MSG. “The validation looks at how it continues to execute its mandate, and at what level it does. It also gauges what positive impacts the initiative were able to bring across to its constituents and stakeholders,” she added. When pressed for more details, Recidoro stated that COMP, as a founding member of the PH-EITI, is committed to continuing to participate in the validation process. According to him, the 2019 EITI validation standard includes additional provisions such as documentation on gender and environmental spending, as well as the contentious question of beneficial possession (BO). “The PH-EITI has been reporting on gender and environmental expenditure since 2012, so we are ahead of the curve in that regard. We piloted beneficial ownership reporting last year,” Recidoro said. However, he said, “BO reporting will still need some work.” “We need SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] to take the lead on this so that it doesn’t become redundant,” he said. “There are also concerns about data privacy,” Recidoro added. He clarified that the EITI requires businesses to report ownership information, but that this is already being done with the SEC. When it comes to BO news, Recidoro believes the SEC needs to establish a consistent policy or set of guidelines. “Beneficial ownership disclosure is already part of the annual general information sheet [GIS], but the issue now is publication. SEC does not make that beneficial ownership disclosure public because of data privacy concerns,” he explained. The GIS is an annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in which businesses report on their specific corporate details and shareholders, among other things. Every year, businesses must send a different GIS form containing their organizational results, according to Recidoro. “Since last year, that GIS now has a beneficial ownership report portion. The GIS is available for download with the SEC, but the BO portion is redacted. Because of data privacy concerns,” he said.
Philippine Resources - April 12, 2021
Miners, government outlook bleak on Philippines' role in EV metals supply chain
Despite being the world's second-largest nickel producer, the Philippines' capacity to engage in the development of a global battery metals supply chain is severely restricted due to a shortage of facilities and stringent policies, as the country's mines bureau and mining industry both agree. "While the Philippines is a top nickel ore producer, we only have two existing nickel/cobalt processing plants that produce nickel and cobalt sulfide concentrates — intermediate products that are further processed in Japan to make electric vehicle batteries," Rocky Dimaculangan, vice president for communications at the Philippines' Chamber of Mines, or COMP, said. Mines and Geosciences Bureau Director Wilfredo Moncano reiterated the view of COMP, saying the Philippines "can participate in the supply of battery metals but it will be limited to the capacity of two mineral processing plants in the country put up by Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd." "Although the country is a top supplier of nickel as export, most of these or about 70% are exported as raw, directly shipped ore and has not undergone mineral processing," Moncano said. According to Moncano, the bureau has sent a request to Congress that would require current and new players to construct mineral processing plants that would manufacture finished and semi-finished materials. Some gold and copper mines in the United States have already built processing plants, and Moncano said the bureau hopes to see nickel and iron ore mines follow suit. "This initiative needs legislation by Congress because MGB cannot obligate these companies to do it without a law. A resulting consequence to this one is the gradual and partial ban of raw nickel and iron ore exports as well as Congressional support for the needed infrastructure like additional electric power plants, and the reduction of power cost because it requires billion dollars to put up a medium size mineral processing plant," Moncano said, noting that electricity costs are very significant in mineral processing. Domestic power prices are among the highest in the ASEAN region, on par with Singapore, according to the Department of Energy's Power Development Plan 2016-2040, owing to the absence of government subsidies, which are present in Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Miners in the Philippines had planned to benefit from Indonesia's ban on nickel exports, which will take effect in 2020. However, current environmental constraints will preclude the Philippines from fulfilling China's nickel production requirements in the absence of Indonesia, according to Market Intelligence's Metals and Mining Research unit, driving Chinese primary capacity down from a projected 715,000 tonnes in 2020 to 490,000 tonnes in 2025. "Larger policy issues ... remain unresolved, particularly the ban on open-pit mining and the moratorium on new mining projects until a new mining tax scheme has been put in place," Dimaculangan said. A prohibition on open-pit mining remains in effect in the Philippines, as does a restriction on new mining licenses before a new tax system is enacted. "To encourage the building of extremely expensive mineral processing facilities and manufacturing plants for EV batteries as well as for clean energy and renewable power projects, the industry needs full government support in terms of stable mining and investment policies that do not change mid-stream," Dimaculangan said. If the obstacles are overcome, the mining industry may be a crucial sector in the country's post-pandemic recovery, according to the COMP and the MGB. "It stands to reason that if policy problems are not immediately resolved, the Philippines will remain an unattractive mining destination and will most definitely fall short of its tremendous potential to participate in this worldwide trend towards mineral-intensive renewable power generation and battery storage technologies," Dimaculangan said. "Otherwise, and this would be most unfortunate, the Philippines will, so to speak, miss the boat again." For the time being, COMP sees the Philippine government's decision to authorize at least 26 new mining ventures that had been shut down by former Environment Secretary Regina Lopez to restart operations as a positive move for the industry. Dimaculangan also expressed hope after the government decided to renegotiate the terms of its financial and technical assistance deal with OceanaGold Corp., the owner of the Didipio gold-copper mine in Quirino province. "Once they are onstream, these projects will undoubtedly help increase the country's exports and the industry's contribution to our GDP," Dimaculangan said.