Daily Archives: November 8, 2011

National hunger rate rises

From BusinessWorld 27 October 2011

HUNGER IS AGAIN ON THE RISE, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said in a new report, with sharp increases in Luzon overwhelming declines in the rest of the country.

One in five households — 21.5% or an estimated 4.3 million families nationwide — experienced having nothing to eat in the last three months, results of a Sept. 4-7 poll made exclusive to BusinessWorld showed.

This was up from the four-year low of 15.1% recorded in June and a point worse than March’s 20.5%. The latest hunger figure — 7.5 points above the 13-year average of 14% — is the worst so far for the Aquino government but is still below the record 24% hit in December 2009 during the previous administration.

A Cabinet official blamed recent storms and higher pump prices for the respondents’ hunger claims, and said the government was working to address the issue especially since more typhoons hit Luzon just after the survey period.

The moderate and severe hunger components of the overall score worsened, with the former up nearly five points to 18% (3.6 million families) and the latter gaining 1.5 points to 3.5% (713,000 families). Both were also above the 13-year averages.

“Moderate” refers to experiencing having nothing to eat “only once” or “a few times” in the last three months, while “severe” involves going hungry “often” or “always.”

Overall hunger climbed sharply in Balance Luzon, hitting a record 28.3% (2.5 million families) from 9.7% previously. The previous peak of 25% was hit in March this year.

Overall hunger was also 10 points up in Metro Manila to 23% (647,000 families).

The surge in both regions swamped an 8.7-point decline in Mindanao to 13% (620,000 families) and a slightly smaller 5.7-point improvement in the Visayas to 15.3% (587,000 families).

Broken down, moderate hunger hit a record 24.3% in Balance Luzon, up 16.6 points from June and surpassing the previous peak of 18.7% in March 2011. The latest level is 14 points above the 13-year average of 10.3%.

Moderate hunger also rose by 5.4 points in Metro Manila, bouncing to 16.7% in September from 11.3% in June and returning to the level of March 2011.

It was down nine points in Mindanao to 11.0% and fell by 5.3 points in the Visayas to 13.0%.

The SWS said the latest moderate hunger rates are higher than their 13-year averages in all areas except Mindanao.

Severe hunger, meanwhile, was highest in Metro Manila, rising by 4.6 points to 6.3% — the highest since December 2009’s 7.3% and 2.8 points above the 13-year average of 3.5%.

It rose by two points in Balance Luzon, to 4.0% (above the 13-year average of 3.0%), and by 0.3 points in Mindanao to 2.0% (below the 13-year average of 4.2%).

Severe hunger was down in the Visayas to 2.3% from 2.7% in June, below the 13-year average of 3.2% for the region.

Asked to comment on the SWS report, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon J. Soliman said the increased claims of having gone hungry were probably due to typhoons, such as Juaning that hit the country in July.

“Balance Luzon, that’s where the typhoons passed, from Juaning — in Region II (Cagayan Valley), part of Region III (Central Luzon), Region I (Ilocos), and CAR (Cordillera Autonomous Region) — and now even more,” she said.

Ms. Soliman said the government response has been to run the cash-for-work program and early recovery work.

“We are augmenting this…and we are doing a massive feeding of hot meals through the National Nutrition Council [in areas] where hunger is high,” the Cabinet official added.

As for Metro Manila, which was less affected by the typhoons, Ms. Soliman said the “perception of hunger” was due to the fuel price increases and its effect on food costs.

“I think it’s the food prices because the increase of gasoline … but at the same time that this was happening we were expanding the conditional cash transfer and the rice subsidy was being provided for,” she said.

Ms. Soliman claimed that for the long-term, the Aquino administration’s human development cluster was looking to set up a more responsive targeting system.

“We also have to monitor from the government side and assess the interventions that we are doing on hunger. We welcome the survey of SWS; we just want to complement it and be more focused on assessing if our programs are addressing the causes of hunger, and the measures that we are doing — are we mitigating it, or do we do more?” she said.

The SWS polled 1,200 adults nationwide. The error margins used were ±3% for national and ±6% for area percentages. —from a report by J. P. D. Poblete

Article location :http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?Section=TopStory&title=National hunger rate rises&id=40606

Philippines at risk to climate change

From BusinessWorld 27 October 2011

THE PHILIPPINES has been ranked as one of the countries at risk to climate change impact due to the high occurrence of typhoons as well as other climate-related events, a firm involved in global risks analysis said yesterday.

In its Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI), which is part of the Climate Change and Environment Risk Atlas report released yesterday, British firm Maplecroft said that the Philippines was among the countries rated as having “extreme risk” to climate change, as it placed 10th out of 193 countries.

The Philippines, Maplecroft said, follows other countries rated with “extreme risk” to climate change, including Haiti, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Madagascar, Cambodia, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi.

Jason McGeown, head of communications at Maplecroft, said the Philippines is vulnerable to climate-related events.

“Like much of Southern and Southeast Asia, the Philippines is particularly exposed to extreme climate-related events with multiple threats particularly from tropical cyclones and storm surge, landslides, flood risk and drought, exposing a significant proportion of the population to associated risks,” he said in an e-mail message yesterday.

Long-term changes, he said, include higher unpredictability of rainfall which could contribute to flooding in the monsoon season and drought in the dry season.

Apart from extreme risk of exposure to hazards, the Philippines, he said, also scored low in terms of sensitivity of the population and the adaptive capacity of the government and institutions to calamities.

The CCVI also showed that an analysis of risks to cities placed Manila, along with Calcutta in India, Jakarta in Indonesia, as well as Dhaka and Chittagong in Bangladesh as having “extreme risk” to climate change.

“Cities such as Manila, Jakarta and Calcutta are vital centres of economic growth in key emerging markets, but heat waves, flooding, water shortages and increasingly severe and frequent storm events may well increase as climate changes takes hold,” Charlie Beldon, principal environmental analyst at Maplecroft, said in a statement on the report.

The impact of climate change, he said, could have far reaching consequences not only for local populations but also in business as well as on the balance sheet of investors.

The Philippine government, it said, should prioritize improving adaptive capacity to better respond to such events.

Sought for comment, Environment Undersecretary Analiza R. Teh said the government is working to address capacity lack.

“We have developed our climate change adaptation strategy. We are climate proofing local plans to factor sea level rise and other effects of climate change in planning and implementing programs,” she said in a text message. — LDD

Article location : http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?Section=Nation&title=Philippines at risk to climate change&id=40592

More investments needed to spur economic growth, experts say in forum


From BusinessWorld 27 October 2011

INVESTMENTS are key to driving the country’s economy to grow at a faster pace, and infrastructure projects are needed to attract such funds, speakers at an economic forum yesterday said.

“If investments were to grow by 8% per year, we will jack up our gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate to 6%,” Antonio Jose U. Periquet, economist and former managing director of Deutsche Regis Partners, Inc., said in his presentation at a forum at Makati Shangri-La Manila that was hosted by Security Bank Corp.

“If 6% is maintained in five years, you will be looking at a domestic market 40% larger than it is today,” he added.

Total investments — which Mr. Periquet said consisted of both public and corporate funds — grew by just 3.2% in 1990-1999, a pace that even slowed to 2.4% in 2000-2009.

Investments generate jobs

John D. Forbes, legislative committee chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), said in his speech that resources like labor, environment and minerals are present in the country but there is a need for more infrastructure.

“If you can make infrastructure efficient and modern, then investments that follow will be efficient. The government needs to spend more,” Mr. Forbes said.

AmCham and the rest of the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines have been pushing recommendations under the Arangkada Philippines, launched late last year, to make the country more competitive.

Mr. Forbes said Arangkada, which listed 471 recommendations, cited the need to generate $75 billion in new foreign direct investments from 2010 to 2020.

This, in turn, is estimated to generate 10 million jobs and P1 trillion in additional revenues for the government.

The Philippines has been a laggard in Southeast Asia in terms of foreign direct investments, Mr. Forbes noted.

He said the Philippines attracted only $1.6 billion out of the $40-billion foreign direct investments in the region from 2000 to 2010.

This pales in comparison with $19.6 billion in Singapore, $6.5 billion in Thailand, $4.7 billion in Malaysia, $3.9 billion in Vietnam and $3.8 billion in Indonesia, Mr. Forbes said.

Foreign direct investments to the Philippines in the seven months to July dropped by 9.7% to $805 million from $891 million the previous year, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas show.

“Long periods of rising investments are typically preceded by periods of underinvestment where infrastructures are neglected and where businesses do not do enough and just maintain,” Mr. Periquet noted.

Current conditions, however, are conducive to business expansion, another speaker said in the same event.

“Interest rates are at all-time lows, corporates are in a very good state, return on capital is better,” Eduardo M. Olbes, executive vice-president of Security Bank Corp., said in the same forum.

Despite current uncertainties in Western economies, there are prospects for growth despite risks, still another speaker said.

“Growth remains positive in most foreign countries. Global expansion should remain intact, but there are some significant downside risks,” Jay H. Bryson, managing director of Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, said in his speech, noting China and the United States will still grow, though at a slower pace.

One development investors have been watching out for, however, is the euro zone’s plan, expected on Wednesday, out of the current sovereign debt crisis he added. — N. J. C. Morales

Article location : http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?Section=Economy&title=More investments needed to spur economic growth, experts say in forum&id=40596

Priority skills tagged by TESDA, industries


From BusinessWorld 7 November 2011

TRAINING for 10 skills will be prioritized by the government a bid to meet the needs of key industries, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) announced.

A TESDA resolution published yesterday listed 10 qualifications recommended by industry partners during consultation meetings last September.

Resolution 2011-09, one of several issuances approved during an Oct. 7 TESDA board meeting, orders the prioritization of the following skills for the telecommunications, livestock, construction, health care, agriculture and programming sectors:

• telecom OSP (outside plant) and subscriber line installation (copper/cable/plain old telephone service/direct subscriber line);

• telecom OSP installation (fiber-optic cable);

• animal breeding (artificial insemination);

• formworks systems installation;

• construction lifting equipment/ passenger elevator operation;

• medical coding and billing;

• rubber tapping;

game programming;

• 2D game art development; and

• 3D game art development

“TESDA regularly conducts industry consultations, particularly in preparation of training regulations (TRs),” TESDA Director-General Joel J. Villanueva said in a text message yesterday.

The TESDA resolution identified the industry associations/partners that requested the skills as including telcos Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and Globe Telecommunications, Inc.; the farm sector-centered Hog Federation of the Philippines and the Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines; Philippine Constructors’ Association; and the Game Development Association of the Philippines.

“All the TRs were prepared together with industry,” Mr. Villanueva said. “The industry is in a better position to determine their own skills needs, the standards required in the workplace. This is why TESDA involves the industry in this effort.

Ramon Isberto, PLDT spokesman, said the telco had a huge need for workers skilled in cable installations.

“PLDT is undertaking a rewiring for its landline network,” he said in a phone interview, explaining that the task requires, among others, the replacement of old copper cables.

“We have been accelerating our next generation network rollout, so for at least two to three years [we would have a huge need for such sorts of skills],” he added, thus the need for fiber-optic cable installation skills.

Pork Producers Federation President Edwin Chen, for his part, said artificial insemination technicians were needed “as breeding is the heart of livestock production”.

Mediaquest Holdings, Inc., a subsidiary of the Beneficial Trust Fund of PLDT, has a minority interest in BusinessWorld.

Article location : http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?Section=TopStory&title=Priority skills tagged by TESDA, industries&id=41193

Filipino engineers less trained than their Asian counterparts


From BusinessWorld 6 November 2011

FILIPINO ENGINEERS could soon be crowded out by their better-trained Southeast Asian counterparts without strong industry-academe partnership and tougher regulation on colleges as the region’s members open its doors to each other’s graduates by 2015, an official said on Thursday.

More engineering graduates are entering the labor force poorly trained for openings available to them in the job market. These ill-prepared graduates strain the ability of firms that need professionals to improve business operations or innovate.

But redesigning the curriculum is not an adequate solution to the skills-job mismatch, as other factors inside and outside schools play equally important roles in ensuring the competence of future engineers.

In fact, the engineering program had already been revised by the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) together with professionals from the industry and the academe with the revision being launched only in 2008.

“I think the curriculum is adequate, and this shouldn’t be the main problem right now. The first batch of graduates of this revised curriculum won’t be produced until 2012,” May Rose C. Imperial, Institute of Electronics and Communications Engineers of the Philippines, Inc. (IECEP) vice-president for education, said on the sidelines of the International Electronics Conference and Expo Philippines 2011 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay.

“Implementation of this curriculum has been deficient in many schools outside of highly urbanized and metropolitan areas where there are hardly any industries to speak of and where facilities and teacher training are severely lacking,” she said.

The revamped curriculum, which features a six-unit on-the-job training (OJT) requirement, considers the practical or hands-on nature of engineering as an applied mathematics and science discipline.

A thriving industrial district is therefore key to ensuring students can fulfill this program.

“We have very few areas as developed as Metro Manila or Cebu, and most of our colleges are in these areas where there are hardly any industries to absorb these students for their OJT. They lose out on the real world learning and experience this type of program offers,” Ms. Imperial said.

Furthermore, colleges have underestimated the role of teachers and technology in properly implementing any curriculum. This oversight, however, might have been the result of the government’s lax regulation of the country’s educational standards.

“Another problem is that the government is giving permits left and right to schools to offer a bachelor’s degree in engineering, so this allowed the proliferation of schools that don’t have the dedication or resources to improve their teachers and facilities,” Ms. Imperial claimed. — Eliza J. Diaz

Article location : http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?Section=Economy&title=Filipino engineers less trained than their Asian counterparts&id=41189

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