PH, Japan reaffirm commitment to better economic ties

Robie de Guzman   •   December 29, 2020   •   1193

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Finance (DOF) reported that the Philippines and Japan have reaffirmed their commitment to further enhance economic partnership, which includes plans to expand Japanese investments in the country.

During a recent courtesy call on Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, newly designated Japan Ambassador to the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko said that Japanese companies are exploring ways of realigning their supply chains to other countries like the Philippines.

Koshikawa said the approval by the Senate of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) bill was welcomed by Japanese investors doing business in the Philippines.

The measure aims to lower the corporate income tax (CIT) for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with a net taxable income of P5 million and below to 20 percent, while other companies, including foreign firms, will pay a harmonized rate of 25 percent.

The current CIT, which is the region’s highest, is 30 percent.

Dominguez, for his part, said that aside from the CIT rate cut, CREATE will also allow the government to tailor fit incentives given to businesses so as to attract the kind of investors that it wants to invest in the Philippines.

The Finance chief also told the ambassador that the Philippines’ competitive edge in attracting foreign direct investments (FDIs) is its young working population, which complements Japan’s highly skilled labor force and makes the two countries ideal “demographic partners.”

During the meeting, Koshikawa also restated Japan’s continuing support for the Philippine government’s efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease, as well as its disaster risk reduction and mitigation programs.

Citing the signing in September between the two countries of the 50-billion yen Post-Disaster Standby Loan (PDSL) Phase 2, the Ambassador reaffirmed Japan’s commitment to continue assisting the Philippines in its disaster risk reduction and mitigation programs.

Since the start of the Duterte administration in July 2016, 15 loan agreements totaling JPY679.296 billion (about P313.147 billion or US$6.443 billion) have been signed by Manila with Tokyo.

Before beginning his tour of duty in Manila, Ambassador Koshikawa was a senior official at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and had served as Japan’s Ambassador to Spain and Angola.

DOF assures enough funds for procuring vaccine supply

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Finance (DOF) on Tuesday (June 15) assured that the national government has enough budget to procure coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine doses.

During the hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole on the COVID-19 vaccination drive, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the government’s P88.6 billion budget is enough to vaccinate 70 million adult Filipinos. This, he said, will cover 149 million vaccine doses.

Dominguez also said that the government will be able to obtain 200 million doses if the private sector will also procure around 25 million doses to be added to the 30 million doses that “are currently in the pipeline for negotiations”.

When asked about the price range for the procurement of vaccines, Dominguez replied it ranges from P323.75 – P1,323.30 per dose. He, however, did not disclose which brands, saying it would violate the non-disclosure agreements with vaccine manufacturers.

Senator Franklin Drilon stated the need for the Senate as well as the public to know the price range of the procured COVID-19 vaccines.

“To be clear, wala po akong sinasabing may nagnakaw. Maliwanag po iyan. Tinatanong ko lang kung magkano ba dahilan sa ito’y obligasyon natin bilang mga senador, obligasyon natin kung paano natin ginagastos ang kanilang pera,” he said.

(To be clear, I was not saying there is corruption. It is clear. What I am asking is how much were the doses since this is our obligation as Senators. It is our obligation to know how we spend public funds.)

“This is a public forum, we cannot disclose publicly. Now if COA [Commission on Audit] wants to audit us, it is open for audit. I personally designed the financing of this involving ADB [Asian Development Bank], AIIB [Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank], and involving World Bank as a double-check. Because they will not pay for that if they see that we are overpaying,” Dominguez said.

The government is also reviewing to have an additional P20 billion to procure doses for the vaccination of children ages 12 to 15 years old. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said it already released over P660 billion funds for the government COVID-19 response.

Meanwhile, the first batch of vaccine supply for the private sector will arrive on June 17.

Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. also said that private companies will give excess doses to the local government.

“Most of the private sector indicated to me that they will donate it to the LGU. considering that when we procured the vaccine the intention of the private sector is really to help the government in producing the dosage,” he said. -AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Japan to donate AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Philippines

Robie de Guzman   •   June 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The government of Japan will donate AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses to the Philippines, its embassy in Manila announced on Tuesday.

“Glad to be the bearer of good news today! Japan will donate AstraZeneca vaccines to the Philippines, and we’ll make sure to deliver them at the soonest possible time so no one gets left behind during this pandemic,” Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa said on Twitter.

In a separate announcement on social media, the embassy said the initiative is “part of Japan’s assistance to ASEAN countries and is outside of the COVAX facility.”

“More COVID-19 vaccines on their way to the Philippines! Foreign Minister [Toshimitsu] Motegi just announced today Japan’s intent to donate AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured in Japan to the Philippines,” the embassy said.

“Close coordination will be done with the Government of the Philippines going forward for the swift delivery of these much-needed jabs,” it added.

The embassy did not indicate how many vaccine doses the Japanese government will donate to the Philippines but Motegi said in an earlier public briefing that the vaccines will be shipped out in July.

The Philippines still has limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines even after receiving more than 8 million doses from February to May this year.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said the country is expecting to receive over 10 million doses more for the month of June and 11 million by July.

The national government is eyeing to inoculate around 70 million people this year.

We have enough money to vaccinate entire adult population — Finance chief

Maris Federez   •   June 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III is confident that the country has sufficient funds to have the entire adult population of around 70 million and the teenage population of around 15 million, vaccinated.

In his report to President Rodrigo Duterte on Talk to the Nation, Monday night, Dominguez said that Congress has authorized the government to spend P85 billion for the vaccines.

Funding for this will be coming primarily from the budget of the Department of Health in the amount of P2.5-B and the Bayanihan 2 amounting to P10-B billion as part of the General Appropriations Act.

Dominguez added that the department was able to borrow a total of P58.5 billion from Official Development Assistance financing firms such as the World Bank (P23.9-B), Asian Development Bank (P20.3-B), and the Asian Infrastructure [Investment] Bank (P14.3-B).

The Finance chief also said that they are sourcing up to P11.5-B and contingency funds of another P2.5-B.

“But the total so far is we have 85 billion. Now, the money is there so we have enough to buy… With P85-B, we can buy 140 billion — ah 140 million doses of vaccines. Now 140 million doses of vaccines can inoculate — can vaccinate 70 million Filipinos. Now 70 million Filipinos are the entire adult population. So we have enough money to vaccinate the entire adult population,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez also assured that once the Department of Health and the inter-agency COVID-19 task force (IATF) include the country’s teen population of around 15 million in the vaccination program, there will be enough funds to cover it.

“Now, if we have to vaccinate children from 12 to 15… I don’t know if that’s authorized already — from 12 to 15? […] We estimate that will cost another P20 billion but we have enough reserves to cover that amount of money. So we have enough,” he added.

Dominguez stressed that the government’s fund is sufficient for the vaccination program.

“Tamang-tama, sapat po ‘yong ano, ‘yong pera natin para sa vaccination. So we don’t have to worry. The money is there and we will certainly be able to vaccinate the entire adult population plus the teenagers who are I think around 15 million, right? Around 15 million Filipinos. So total 85 million Filipinos,” Dominguez assured. —/mbmf

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