Metro Manila

Metro Manila

Metropolitan Manila

Inflation rate in Metro Manila down to 2.1%

Cheaper prices of overall consumer goods in Metro Manila had brought the headline inflation in August 2013 to its four-year low at 2.1 percent compared to 3.8 percent in same month last year.
Socioeconomic Planning Sec. Arsenio Balisacan stressed that the slower year-on-year increase of overall consumer prices resulted from reduction of prices in the National Capital Region (NCR) and the slower price adjustments in areas outside Metro Manila.
“Headline inflation remains stable at an average of 2.8 percent from January to August 2013. This is below the low-end target of 3.0 to 5.0 percent set by the Development Budget Coordination Committee for the year,” he said.

Balisacan noted that lower inflation was observed in food and petroleum products amid peso depreciation and weather disturbances during the period.

Non-food items also recorded slower price increases in August 2013 as a result of cheaper electricity, gas and other fuels, and lower inflation in operation of personal transport equipment (2.9% from 5.6%) and transport services (0.3% from 0.4%).
“This reflects the lower generation charge of Manila Electric Co., which is now able to source power strategically from suppliers with lower cost, and the decline of international crude price during the period,” Balisacan said.
As to the price of food items, the Cabinet official added, “Despite the adverse effects of typhoon Labuyo and tropical storm Maring, inflation rate of most food items declined on an annual basis. In Metro Manila, prices of meat and several vegetable items were even lower than in the previous year.”

Average price of vegetables nationwide were cheaper by 2.6 percent compared to a year ago, while slower price hikes were recorded for meat, fish, fruits and other food products and beverages.

Balisacan said that in Metro Manila, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) reported annual reductions in the prices of fully dressed chicken by 4.9 percent, and several vegetable items like ampalaya by 39.2 percent, sitao by 34.3 percent, cabbage by 60.8 percent, carrots by 49.1 percent, baguio beans by 31.5 percent, white potato by 17.7 percent, eggplant by 31.6 percent, native pechay by 48.4 percent, and calamansi by 10.7 percent.

Meanwhile, low deliveries of rice in Metro Manila markets due to seasonal disruptions brought the country’s general rice price index to a higher rate at 3.9 percent in August 2013, from 2.4 percent in the previous month.

“The early harvest of rice in Visayas and Mindanao regions will help boost the rice stocks in the country in the next months, stabilizing the prices of rice for the succeeding period,” Balisacan added.

Lifestyle and habits of BPO employees influence consumer consumption

The unique lifestyle and habits of Philippine business process outsourcing (BPO) employees are influencing retail and consumer consumption, according to the latest report by global information and insights company, Nielsen. 

Nielsen’s report, which provides a 360 view of BPO employees, reveals that as BPO employees alter their lifestyle to fit the demands of their job, they also change their purchase and consumption habits. 

“Being well paid than most Filipinos, BPO employees are formidable members of the growing middle class population of the country. The spending habits of BPO employees reflect an affluence that is more than the general population, spurring consumer spending,” said Stuart Jamieson, Nielsen Philippines managing director. 
The face-to-face interviews reveal that BPO workers prefer food and beverages that are quick and easy to prepare. With a typical work schedule starting at 10 p.m. and ending at 6 a.m., BPO employees who participated in the study consumed more processed and pre-packed food during breakfast and breaks while for dinner, their diet included other alternatives such as pre-packed food, or dining out.   
In terms of food products, the respondents showed high consumption of breakfast cereals, hard candies, gum, biscuits and chocolates. In some in-depth interviews which were used to complement the survey data, respondents say that they prefer instant breakfast cereals because it can be eaten quickly at home or out of home. 
While consuming candies and gum help them to be alert and awake during night shifts, BPO employees rely on biscuits to keep them full in between main meals.   
The report also disclosed that BPO employees drink beverages such as iced tea, energy drinks, ready-to-drink juices and milk more frequently that the total market.
It was learned in the interviews with BPO employees that consuming these drinks are their little daily indulgence as these satisfy one or more of their consumer needs.
High consumption of alcoholic beverages is also observed among BPO employees, with 76 per cent of BPO respondents admitting that they consumed alcoholic drinks in 2012 compared to 40 per cent of the general population who said they drank alcoholic drinks.
According to BPO employees who participated in the in-depth interviews, alcohol serves as a facilitator in establishing teamwork. They claimed that for spontaneous or after-shift drinking, they buy alcoholic drinks from convenience stores and places which are open 24 hours.
For a planned drinking session, they go to grills and watering holes.  These planned drinking sessions happen usually on paydays when they have money to burn. BPO employees said that they also drink during their day-offs in their homes or neighborhoods.
When it comes to technology adoption, BPO consumers are more likely to own gadgets more than the general market—indicative of the improving socio-economic class of BPO employees.  

Compared to the general population, more BPO employees own postpaid subscriptions, with significantly higher monthly spending than the total market. The in-depth interviews say that mobile phones are essential in their lives because it enables them to manage their busy work schedules and at the same time cope with maintaining their relationships with family and friends. They also use their mobile phones as a tool for entertainment to break the monotony of work days.  

“By being constantly on their mobile phones and staying online through their high connectivity and multiple connection points, BPO consumers are more accessible via the Internet.  BPO consumers live multi-screen lives. They watch TV while they have a tablet or mobile phone on hand. This gives advertisers and marketers huge opportunities to drive innovation and interest to various categories such as consumer goods, pharmaceutical products, telecommunications, and financial services,” recommends Jamieson.  

To tap the BPO consumers, Jamieson also advised companies to form retailer collaborations around the BPO offices, specifically convenience stores, fast food coffee shops that are frequented by call center employees.

More jobs in a sustained economic growth

Philippine Labor and Employment Sec. Rosalinda has expressed optimism that there would more high-quality jobs under a regime of sustained economic growth.
Baldoz said the official employment data of the National Statistics Office partly boost her optimism for higher quality jobs in an atmosphere where the Philippines is growing rapidly despite a weak global economy.
“The results of the April 2013 Labor Force Survey points to a considerably improving overall quality of employment with persons in full-time employment growing by 15.3 percent or 3.194 million, and persons in part-time employment decreasing by 18.9 percent, or 3.063 million,” said Baldoz.
She noted that the increase in the number of persons in full-time employment in the April 2013 LFS survey rode on the back of the increase recorded in the January 2013 LFS survey, where 1.515 million or 6.5 percent were added to the number of full-time employed persons. This means regular, full-time employment can be sustained.
Baldoz also pointed out that the gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 10.3 percent in the industry sector, which overtook the 7.4 percent growth in services, is an indicator of a more stable, long-term avenue for employment generation.
“We have noted a rapid growth in capital formation. The manufacturing industry has the ability to generate higher-quality and more permanent employment. Our challenge is to be able to respond to industry’s demand for more skilled workers in the near- and long-term,” Baldoz said.
“The key is to continually upgrade workers’ skills and qualifications and to intensify promotion of harmonious labor-management relations at the plant-level to foster cooperative labor-employer relations.”
One of the DOLE’s strategies to promote employment is to intensify implementation of the Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP) in the key employment generators – tourism, agriculture, fisheries, agri-business, information and communications technology, business process management (ICT-BPM), electronics, automotive, general infrastructure, construction, housing, manufacturing and logistics.
For 2014, DOLE has increased the budget for the TWSP to P1.4 billion from P563 million in 2013 to be able to upgrade the skills of some 186,667 workers across all key employment generators.
“We also target 159,000 apprentices under our apprenticeship program. For our other technical-vocational education and training program, we target 904,000 skills to be assessed and certified next year,” Baldoz added.

Government departments vow to improve quality of life of poor Filipinos

Ten Philippine government departments have recently agreed to beef up efforts in order to improve the quality of life of the marginalized sectors of the society.
The convergence strategy was formalized with the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by officials of the departments of agriculture, health, agrarian reform, environment and natural resources, interior and local government, labor and employment, science and technology, social welfare and development, tourism and trade and industry (DTI).
DENR Sec.Ramon Paje said the agreement provides a holistic approach as it involves almost all line agencies to ensure a more effective and efficient implementation of programs on poverty alleviation, job creation, food security, and healthy and safe environment.
Paje said the agreement was consistent with the existing national convergence initiative for sustainable rural development among the DENR, DA and DAR, which focuses on shared responsibility in sustainable development of natural resources and communities in the country’s rural areas.
“The agreement is an expanded convergence that ensures our programs and projects, particularly those for community-based sustainable livelihood and enterprise development, will be complementary, harmonized and therefore more inclusive to a wide swath of society,” Paje said.
The agreement also identifies priority and high-impact programs and projects from each of the 10 agencies that have common interests and objectives, particularly those aimed at alleviating poverty in municipalities.
The National Greening Program – which seeks to plant trees on 1.5 million hectares for six years ending in 2016 – was identified as the DENR’s main contribution to the convergence, with its various activities as support to poverty alleviation, food security and climate change mitigation.
Among these activities are site identification and development, seedling production and plant propagation, adoption of environment-friendly technologies, provision of planting materials and technical assistance, and conduct of monitoring and evaluation.
Other government projects identified in the new convergence program include the Agri-Pinoy Program of the DA, the Program Beneficiaries Development of DAR, the Enhancing Economic Growth and Competitiveness of Local Government Units Program of the DILG, and the Integrated Livelihood Program towards Community Enterprise Development of the DOLE.
The DOLE is also tasked to assist trainees of its attached agency, the Technical Education and Skills Development Training (TESDA), in creating community-based sustainable livelihood and enterprises.
Other contributing programs are the DOST’s Small Enterprises Technology Upgrading Program; the Sustainable Livelihood Program, particularly through the Micro-Enterprise Development Track or the Employment Facilitation Track of the DSWD; and the DTI’s National Industry Cluster Capacity Enhancement Project.
The agreement directs the DOH, through the Food and Drug Administration, to ensure the safety, efficacy, purity and quality of all regulated products through monitoring of all covered establishments.
The DOT, on the other hand, is directed to develop training modules and conduct training programs to upgrade the quality, competence and excellence in the delivery of tourism services.
The agreement is the latest initiative to implement Pres.Benigno S Aquino III’s “social contract” with Filipinos to reduce poverty incidence by building capacities and creating opportunities, while recognizing the vital role of farms and community-based enterprises in contributing to food security and economic growth.