Tax collection by the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs remained sluggish in October, amid the economic slowdown. COMPANY HANDOUT

THE government’s budget deficit swelled in October, bringing the 10-month gap to nearly P1 trillion as state revenues remained weak and spending continued to decline even as economic managers pledged to ramp up spending to stimulate the economy.

Latest data from the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) showed the budget gap rose by 24.56% to P61.4 billion in October. This brought the year-to-date shortfall to a record-high of P940.6 billion, up 170% from the P348-billion deficit seen in the same period last year.

In 2019, the budget deficit reached P660.2 billion. Economic managers estimated that the budget gap will hit P1.815 trillion this year or equivalent to 9.6% of gross domestic product (GDP).

Broken down, overall spending went down for the second straight month last month by 6.84% … Read the rest

This is the web version of Term Sheet, a daily newsletter on the biggest deals and dealmakers. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.

Good morning, Term Sheet readers. Finance reporter Anne Sraders here, filling in for Lucinda. 

VC fundraising just booked a new record: U.S. VC funds raised a total of $69.1 billion so far in 2020, beating the high set in 2018 of $67.8 billion, according to PitchBook

And we have Andreessen Horowitz to thank for that. The firm closed two massive funds on Friday: one $1.3 billion fund for early-stage consumer and fintech companies, and another $3.2 billion fund focused on later-stage investments. (Mega funds over $1 billion like a16z’s made up a record 15% of all U.S. VC funds raised this year as of September.)

Part of the funding frenzy owes to the “move from on-premise to cloud, from laptops … Read the rest

Vote buying is highest in the Philippines and Thailand, where 28% have been offered a bribe in return for a vote, according to a survey by Transparency International. — PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

By Jenina P. Ibañez, Reporter

MORE FILIPINOS are confident that the government is doing well in tackling corruption compared with Asian neighbors, although they also believe corruption in government remains a big problem, a survey from Transparency International showed.

The Global Corruption Barometer Asia 2020 released on Tuesday surveyed nearly 20,000 citizens from 17 countries, mostly between June and September 2020.

Results showed that 64% of Philippine respondents think that corruption has decreased in the last 12 months, while only 24% believe that it increased. Across Asia, 32% believe that corruption decreased and 38% said that it went up.

More Filipinos express confidence in government’s anti-corruption efforts

As much as 85% in the Philippines believe that the government is doing a good job in addressing corruption, Read the rest

If you’re feeling lonely this Thanksgiving, and wishing for human contact, don’t dismiss what your head and heart are telling you.

Those cravings aren’t just cabin fever—the human body hungers for companionship in much the way we hunger for food, according to a new study conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The study may just shed some light into the phenomenon of lockdown fatigue—that is, why, for example, so many Americans are willing to ignore guidelines from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention to stay at home this holiday season, or why anti-lockdown protests continue to bloom from Berlin to Columbus, Ohio. One possible reason? Humans may have this innate biological need to see each other. And restrictions, no matter how well intentioned, are messing with it.

The MIT study, conducted mostly on college-age volunteers in 2018 and 2019—before the pandemic—found that 10 hours without any social contact, … Read the rest

New investment pledges are expected to be lower this year amid the pandemic. — REUTERS/ERIK DE CASTRO

THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is aiming to approve more than P100 billion in investment pledges by the end of the year, led by a potential investor relocating from China.

“We might exceed more than P100 billion this year, with all these positive responses of our present investors and incoming investors,” PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza in a press conference on Monday.

For the first 10 months of 2020, the agency reported P72.6 billion in new investment pledges, falling by more than a quarter from a year earlier.

The PEZA board approved another P14.6 billion worth of new investments during its board meeting earlier this month.

However, even if PEZA reaches P100 billion in new investment pledges, this would still be around 15% lower than P117.54 billion in investments … Read the rest

The power structure of Capitol Hill and control of the U.S. Senate will be decided by the outcome of two Senate seats heading for runoff elections in Georgia on January 5.

If Democrats take both Georgia seats, they’d have the power of the 50–50 spilt chamber through Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote. But if Republicans secure one seat, they’ll maintain control of the Senate and Congress will remain spilt—given Democrats still have the U.S. House of Representatives.

And with stimulus unlikely to pass during the lame-duck session, control of the Senate next year is the key factor in determining the size and scope of the next economic aid package.

Just how high are the stakes? In the ballpark of $1 trillion. On Saturday, Goldman Sachs published a report that projects a $2 trillion economic aid package by February if Democrats win both Georgia seats. But if Republicans win one … Read the rest

By Luz Wendy T. Noble, Reporter

THE Philippine central bank would probably remain dovish and might cut benchmark interest rates again next month and in the next quarter as the recovery outlook remains uncertain, analysts said.

“If the pace of economic recovery continues to underperform official forecasts, as we expect in the near term, then policy rate cuts will be warranted,” Nomura Global Markets Research analysts Euben Paracuelles and Rangga Cipta said in a note.

Further cuts would likely come especially as inflation remains benign and stays within the target of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), whose monetary policy decisions continue to rely on data, they added.

“We reiterate our forecast that BSP will cut its policy rate by another 50 basis points (bps) to 1.5%, likely delivering 25 bps at its next monetary board meeting in December and then another 25 bps in the first … Read the rest

It sounds like the perfect arbitrage opportunity: Leave your crowded city for a bigger place in the ‘burbs, but keep your big city salary.

But now, a new study by global advisory firm Willis Towers Watson shows that many employers aren’t necessarily planning to let you keep your full paycheck if you move. The survey of 344 employers in North America showed that nearly 20% of employers are “setting pay levels by first determining the market value of an employee’s skills and then applying a geographic differential based on where the employee is located.” However six in 10 employers say they will continue to pay remote employees the same as in-office employees “no matter where they work.”

While Twitter has been on the forefront of decentralizing it’s workforce (and paying them in part based on where they live), other tech companies have recently taken a similar path. Facebook made headlinesRead the rest

Coca-Cola Philippines has extensively scaled up its e-commerce presence to better respond to consumers whose needs and shopping behavior have altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With transportation and mobility affected, the Company has ensured that it can continue to serve people with its portfolio of beverages just a few clicks away.

Coca-Cola’s e-commerce website was first launched in 2015. To meet the constraints of the pandemic and to adapt to homebound Filipinos’ needs, the Company accelerated its digital and e-commerce roadmap—strengthening existing infrastructure and opening new channels to connect with the market. Thus, demonstrating agility as a total beverage company, with consumers always top of mind.

Coca-Cola products have been accessible online through its e-commerce website — — since 2015. With the constraints of the pandemic, the Company ensures that its products remain available within a click’s reach by strengthening its existing platform and partnering with food
Read the rest

You usually think of ultrasound machines as the devices used in hospital radiology labs to produce images of the fetus in pregnant women, or pinpoint damage from heart attacks. But one of the biggest advances in the fight against COVID-19 is repurposing portable, battery operated, bedside ultrasound scanners to instantaneously show which organs are hit by the disease, and display digital images of the ravages to the heart, lungs or kidneys. Those super-quick damage checks are fast-tracking the formerly slow walk of COVID patients from the ER to the ICU.

In the early days of the pandemic, hospitals were relying on full-body CT or CAT scans that took an hour or more to identify if and where a patient might need life-saving treatments. “Patients were dying in the machine, or in a resuscitation bay before we knew where the problems were,” says Dr. Diku Mandavia, chief medical officer at FujiFilm … Read the rest