Filipino consumers post the highest confidence index score worldwide

Filipino consumers posted the highest consumer confidence index score among consumers from around the world.

In the second quarter of 2017, optimism of Filipino consumers was the most bullish despite a slight dip of two points from the fourth quarter of 2016 to register a confidence index score of 130, according to the latest Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions.

It was in the same period last year that consumer confidence in the Philippines surged to no. 1 with a 13-point increase to 132 index score. During that time it was the biggest quarter-on-quarter increase among countries included in the survey.

“Consumers in the Philippines have always been in the top three in the past number of years and to be the most optimistic globally for the second time is not surprising given that the economy remains to be one of the strongest in Asia at 6.5% GDP growth rate in Q2,” says Stuart Jamieson, managing director of Nielsen Philippines and Emerging Markets Southeast Asia Cluster leader.

Established in 2005, the Nielsen Consumer Confidence Index is fielded quarterly in 63 countries to measure the perceptions of local job prospects, personal finances, immediate spending intentions and related economic issues of real consumers around the world. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism, respectively

Globally, consumer confidence showed signs of continued improvement with an index score of 104, up three points from quarter four of 2016.

After the Philippines, India posted a 128 index score, declining by eight points while Indonesia follows with a 121 index score, gaining a percentage point. The United States slipped by five points to an index score of 118 while confidence level in Vietnam is on the ascent with a five-point percentage gain to 117 index score.

While the three confidence indicators which were measured in the survey remain high, slight decreases are noted. Job optimism dropped two percentage points to 85% in the second quarter compared to quarter four and four points versus quarter two last year. Responses from the Philippines also showed a dip to two percentage points in immediate-spending intentions (58%) from Q4 2016 and a decrease of three points compared to year-ago report. Favorable sentiment about personal finances remains positive at 84%, although it went down when compared to 86% in Q2 2016 and Q4 2016.

When it comes to having cash to spare after paying for the essential living expenses, saving money still tops the list for Filipino consumers at 58% (a six-point decrease compared to quarter four of 2016). Interestingly, consumers indicated increased willingness to allocate spare cash to new clothes, up nine points to 33%, while holidays or vacations come in next with 30%, a three-point increase compared to the end of the quarter of 2016. Investment in shares of stock (29%, +1) and home improvements (27%, -2) also make it to the list.

“Consumers with a positive outlook about their finances, job prospects, and spending intentions tend to have an open mindset towards indulgences such as clothes and travel,” Jamieson said.

Philippines gets US$500-M WB-AIIB funding for flood management

The Philippines has secured a US$500 million funding from the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to improve flood management in select drainage areas in Metro Manila with a counterpart fund of US$84.79 million from the Philippine government.

Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar stressed that the government is taking an important step in the implementation of the Metro Manila Flood Management Master Plan designed to safely control floods in the national capital region and surrounding areas.

“The Master Plan will take 25 years to implement, but this phase of modernizing Metro Manila’s pumping stations will ensure that several million residents will be less vulnerable to floods,” says Villar.

Under the Metro Manila Flood Management Project, 36 existing pumping stations will be modernized, 20 new ones will be constructed, and supporting infrastructure along critical waterways will be improved in the cities of Manila, Pasay, Taguig, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, San Juan, Pasig, Valenzuela, Quezon City, and Caloocan. Many of Metro Manila’s existing pumping stations were built in the 1970s and have become inefficient and underperforming.

Flood events, particularly during the typhoon season from June to October, are a recurring problem in Metro Manila. They cause inundation of roads, exacerbate traffic congestion, and destroy the lives, infrastructure and livelihood of people, especially the poor.

Solid waste clogs waterways and the entries to pumping stations, affecting the operation and maintenance of the pumps. The project will improve management of solid waste within the villages near the drainage systems served by the pumping stations. It will also support the government’s resettlement of informal settlers that are located on the waterways.

Mara Warwick, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand says that when floods occur, the capacity of people to earn a living is constrained, and many can fall back into poverty.

“Recurrent flooding has made life more difficult for the poorest populations who live in low-lying areas, on riverbanks, and in other danger zones,”

“The lives of people in metropolitan Manila – especially the poor, women and children – are severely affected by exposure to frequent cyclones and flooding induced by heavy rain. The floods disrupt business and commercial activities, causing unnecessary economic costs,” said Supee Teravaninthorn, Director General for Investment Operations, AIIB.  “Investing in sustainable infrastructure is a key priority for AIIB and we feel this project is a great fit for our first investment in the Philippines.”

DPWH and the Metro Manila Development Authority will implement the project in close coordination with local governments and key shelter agencies. Slated to start this year, the project is scheduled to be completed in 2024.

The master plan proposed a set of measures to effectively manage major flood events, which include the following:

  • Reduce flooding from river systems that run through the metropolis, by building a dam in the upper Marikina River catchment area in order to reduce peak river flows entering Metro Manila during typhoons and other extreme rainfall events;
  • Eliminate long-term flooding in the flood plain of Laguna de Bay, to protect the population living along the shore against high water levels in the lake;
  • Improve urban drainage, including modernization of Metro Manila’s pumping stations; and
  • Improve flood forecasting, early warning systems, and community-based flood risk management.

PAL starts Clark-Basco, Batanes service

1st Q400 NG delivery flight at Malta stop over 2

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has expanded its domestic network with the opening the Clark-Basco route starting October 1, 2017.

The four-times-a-week service from Clark International Airport in Pampanga complements PAL’s existing twice-a-day Manila-Basco flights.

The new flight, operated by PAL Express, departs Clark 11:45 AM every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday. The return flight leaves Basco 2:00 PM on the same days. 

The Clark-Basco route offers convenient direct flight without the need for Central and Northern Luzon passengers to travel by land to Manila.

The new route is part of PAL’s development of Clark as a third hub of operations, following Manila and Cebu.

Meanwhile, PAL has upgraded Cebu-Cagayan de Oro and Cebu-Butuan routes to the next-generation, dual-class Bombardier Q400 starting October 1.

Passengers get to experience the new Q400’s spacious and quiet cabin comparable to jet airplanes.

The 86-seater Q400 flies twice a day on the Cebu-Cagayan de Oro and Cebu-Butuan service.

PAL has started taking delivery of 12 new Q400 turboprops that are being used to open new inter-island routes.

On November 1, PAL will open three new domestic routes out of Davao – to Zamboanga, Tagbilaran and Cagayan de Oro.