Showing posts with label Economy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Economy. Show all posts

First Batch of Qatari & Saudi investors Arrive the Philippines for Palawan, Visayas and Mindanao Million Dollar Projects

Qatari Investment in the Philippines
MOUs worth amounting to US$ 206 million were signed this afternoon between Qatari local companies and the Philippines Economic Zones Authority (PEZA) Photo: Asian Telegraph Qatai

1st batch of investors from Qatar, Mideast visit Philippines

The first batch of investors from Qatar and the Middle East has visited the Philippines to study the locations identified by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) for investments in several sectors.

Peza director general Charito B Plaza posted on her Facebook page that investors from the Middle East “are ready” to invest on agro-industrial economic zones, including a 1,000-hectare area for poultry and vegetable crops.

Other projects, according to Plaza, include the development of five islands in the southern part of the Philippines where investors are planning to build a resort, retirement village, and other tourism destinations.

The first batch of Middle East investors is among the 13 companies that signed letters of intent (LoI) with Peza during Philippine President Rodrigo R Duterte’s state visit to Qatar in April.

Speaking to Gulf Times during Duterte’s Qatar visit, Plaza had said Mindanao would be home to most of the $206mn (P10.3bn) worth of investments Peza signed with Qatari investors. She said the investments are expected to generate 5,870 new jobs in the country.

The investments range from retirement village projects, hotel and tourism ecozones, IT services and digital marketing, ecozone management services, poultry and halal food processing, as well as agro-industrial farming, and hospital and medical tourism economic zones, among others.

Plaza said, “While waiting for the Peza board’s approval of their application, we can already start looking for areas and economic zones where the investors can establish their industries. Vast islands in Palawan, Mindanao, and the Visayas are awaiting development.” According to Plaza, Peza had achieved 64% of its $1bn target from its initiatives in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE, which Duterte visited in April.

“Thanks to the good economic climate and favorable conditions of the Arab investment market, I am confident that Peza can easily exceed its $1bn target earmarked for the Middle East,” she pointed out.

She also said the Philippines would be an ideal distribution hub for Qatar in fields such as defense, manufacturing, and food processing due to its “strategic location” in Asia and the Pacific.

Plaza also emphasized on the need for economic zones with logistics hubs, seaports, and airports, which are under the helm of the Philippines’ Department of Transportation.

“These logistics hubs must have special economic zone services such as warehouses, cold storage, and container yards so that we have abundant facilities to stock goods while waiting for ships to arrive,” Plaza said. She added, “All types of economic zones can be built in the Philippines depending on the potential and the type of land. Agro-industrial, agro-forestry, paper making, aquamarine, eco-tourism, medical tourism, and export manufacturing remain to be the most popular.”

PEZA & Qatari Investors Sign MOUs of US $ 206 m Investments in Philippines Economic Zones

A number of Qatari business community members and their representatives had one to one detailed meeting with Chairman and accompanying members of Philippines Economic Zone Authority today.

On the sideline of President Duterte visit to Qatar, a number of MOUs worth amounting to US$ 206 million were signed this afternoon between Qatari local companies and the Philippines Economic Zones Authority (PEZA).

Ramon M. Lopez, Secretary (Minister) Department of Trade & Industry of Philippines was also present on the occasion and witnessed the MOU ceremony. On behalf of PEZA, Brig. Gen. Charito Booc Plaza, Director General PEZA signed the MOUs.

PEZA local representatives Joseph Rivera, Greg Loayon and Adel Sa’adeh assisted in organising the signing ceremony.

Philippines Trade minister and PEZA authorities are part of official delegation of President Rodrigo Duterte, who is on his official visit to State of Qatar.

Read more at Gulf Times and Asian Telegraph Qatar

Philippines Rejects EU $278 Million USD Remote Control Fund Loan Grant

Philippines rejected EUROPEAN UNION $278 Million USD Remote Control Fund Loan Grant
Philippines rejected EUROPEAN UNION $278 Million USD Remote Control Fund Loan Grant for 2017

Philippines Rejects European grants

The Philippines will no longer accept grants from the European Union, the EU delegation to Manila said Thursday, following repeated tirades from President Rodrigo Duterte over its criticism of his deadly drug war.

"The Philippine government has informed us that they (will) no longer accept new EU grants," the delegation said in a brief statement.

The decision will affect grants worth 250 million euros ($278 million), according to Franz Jessen, the EU's ambassador to Manila.

Philippine government officials did not immediately comment, with the finance department saying a statement would be issued later on Thursday.

Duterte, 72, has repeatedly criticised European lawmakers and the EU for condemning his drug war, which has claimed thousands of lives and led to warnings from critics of a crime against humanity.

In comments last year, he used vulgar language and raised his middle finger in a response to a European parliament statement expressing concern over the killings.

The German government also expressed concern after Duterte last year drew parallels between his drug war and Nazi Germany leader Adolf Hitler's Holocaust.

"Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there are three million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I'd be happy to slaughter them," Duterte said, underestimating the number of people killed in the Holocaust.

Duterte later apologised for the Hitler reference but said he was "emphatic" about wanting to kill addicts.

Duterte easily won presidential elections last year after promising to end crime by killing tens of thousands of drug traffickers and addicts.

Police have reported killing about 2,700 people since Duterte took office at the end of June and immediately launched his war on drugs.

Unknown assailants have killed more than 1,800 others, while about 5,700 other violent deaths are under investigation, according to police data.

Partly in response to American criticism of the drug war, Duterte has also loosened the Philippines' ties with traditional ally the United States.

He has instead embraced China, which has supported his drug war and sought to deepen economic ties by providing billions of dollars worth of investments and aid to the Philippines.

Duterte, a self-described socialist, has also forged warmer relations with Russia, and will travel to Moscow next week to meet President Vladimir Putin.

Read more at Sources: AP & SBS  

Malaysia inspects North Korean coal ship for possible U.N. sanctions breach

North Korean Cargo Ship KUM YA formerly named lucky star 7

North Korean Cargo Ship "KUM YA" (former Lucky Star 7)

By James Pearson, Rozanna Latiff and Tom AllardKUALA LUMPUR, March 29 

(Reuters) - Malaysia briefly prevented a North Korean ship carrying coal from entering its port in Penang because of a suspected breach of United Nations sanctions, a port worker and Malaysian maritime officials told Reuters on Wednesday

The KUM YA (Formerly Lucky Star 7) was carrying 6,300 metric tons of anthracite coal, according to a worker at Penang Port who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity. It was later allowed to dock, where an inspection team accompanied by an armed escort boarded the ship.
A December 2016U.N. Security Council resolution placed a cap on exports of North Korean coal, and urged member states to apply extra scrutiny on North Korean ships.

Production of coal in North Korea is state-controlled and its exports are a key source of hard currency for the isolated country's banned nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Relations between North Korea and Malaysia, which have been friendly for decades, have soured following the February assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's half-brother at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
The North Korean ship had been initially prevented from entering Penang Port due to a possible breach of U.N. sanctions, MMEA deputy director-general of operations Zulkifli Abu Bakar, told Reuters without offering further details.
It was unclear what the inspectors were checking on. The United Nations in its annual reports on how members have complied with sanctions have cited a number of instances over the past decade in which North Korean missile parts and coal connected to sanctioned entities were trans-shipped through Malaysia.
Malaysia is one of the few countries in the world which buys North Korean coal, with China by far the biggest importer.

The KUM YA was recently re-flagged as a North Korean ship, changing its name from Lucky Star 7 in November last year, according to the Equasis shipping database.
 It was registered on Feb. 13 to North Korean shipping company Sonchonggang Water Transport, according to copies of the ship's registration documents, which were issued by North Korea'sMaritime Administration, and seen by Reuters.
The ship was carrying 20 crew members, and was scheduled to sail onto Singapore, the port worker said.
The ship listed its port of origin as Busan, South Korea. However, shipping data in Thomson Reuters Eikon shows the cargo was loaded at the Huaneng Shandong Power Station Weihai, a coal-fired power plant. It then sailed to Penang through the South China Sea and the Malacca Strait, the data shows.

Source: (
China halted all coal imports from North Korea starting on Feb. 26, amid growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula following one of a series of Pyongyang's missile tests.
Malaysia's foreign ministry told officials at Penang Port not to let the ship dock before an inspection team had it "declared safe," the port worker said.
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) confirmed the ship had been stopped following instructions from Malaysia's foreign ministry, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
 "Many North Korean ships call on our ports and we never had problems. Just over the recent months, there have been problems," the port worker told Reuters. "We have never received directives to stop North Korean ships before."

The KUM YA was first stopped at sea before being allowed to dock in port where it was immediately cordoned off, the port worker said.
 "Minerals and Geoscience Department officials were then called to inspect the cargo on board. The department officers were told to confirm it was indeed coal on board," the port worker said.
The coal was being unloaded on Wednesday afternoon and has not been confiscated, the port worker said.
Since 2011, Malaysia has imported over 2 million metric tons of coal a year, according to government statistics, which are not broken down by country of origin.
The KUM YA shipment was handled by Malaysian freight forwarding company Alim Maritime Sdn Bhd, the port worker said. An Alim Maritime official reached by telephone declined to comment.
The KUM YA can hold up to 6,843 metric tonnes of cargo, according to Equasis, meaning it was 92 percent full when it arrived in Penang.

Solar Philippines Breakground $150 Million USD Solar Farm in Tarlac

Solar Philippines Breakground 150 Megawatt Solar Farm in Tarlac, Philippines
At the ceremonial groundbreaking of the 150-MW Tarlac solar farm, with the first ‘Made in the Philippines’ panels by Solar Philippines are (from left): Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, Solar Philippines president Leandro Leviste, Tarlac Governor Susan Yap and Concepcion Mayor Andy Lacson Photo: PhilSTAR

Solar pioneer starts 150-MW Tarlac solar farm

Solar Philippines has kicked off the construction of its 150-megawatt (MW) solar farm with battery storage here, its largest solar power project to-date, which can provide the province’s requirements in six months time, its top official said yesterday.

The whole solar farm will start operating as a merchant plant in the third quarter of the year, Solar Philippines president Leandro Leviste said during the ceremonial groundbreaking of the project.

“The output of the 150 MW plant that will be operating here by the second half of 2017 will be able to power the entire Tarlac province with cheap renewable energy,” he said.

The company official said this will heed Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi’s call to put up more merchant power plants – or those generating facilities selling their output to the wholesale electricity spot market (WESM) – to further spur competition in the electricity spot market.

“What we want is to make this fast…(because) solar is now cheaper than coal and therefore get this online within 2017. And that’s why even without the contract finally approved by regulators, we’re doing this for most of the plant’s capacity,” Leviste said.

The Concepcion solar farm will comprise close to 450,000 solar panels and over 150 hectares, with room to expand as demand for solar with batteries increases.

Leviste said the cost to put up the solar farm is equivalent to $1 million per megawatt, or roughly $150 million for the entire project.

“With the battery… it can be an additional 20-50 percent of the cost of the project. But we’re not doing all the batteries all at once, it’s going to be phased incrementally,” he said.

Solar Philippines is the developer, investor, contractor and supplier for its projects – a strategy which the company believes is the key to making solar cost-competitive.

“Why do we expect lower price? One is vertical integration, by doing solar panel manufacturing in-house as well as the construction. the development, the financing will definitely lower the cost. Second is the economies of scale,” Leviste said.

Once completed, the power plant will have many firsts in its name - philSTAR

Philippines' hits $7.93 Billion USD Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in 2016

Philippines' hits $7.93 Billion USD Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in 2016
Philippines' hits $7.93 Billion USD Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in 2016

Philippines’ FDI inflow hits record high in 2016

THE PHILIPPINES received a record $7.93 billion in actual foreign direct investment (FDI) last year, as sound macroeconomic fundamentals overshadowed the uncertainties brought about by leadership changes within and outside the country.
The net inflow of foreign direct investments (FDIs) soared 40.7% above the $5.64 billion recorded for 2015, according to preliminary data released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Friday.

The yearend result surpassed by 18.4% the $6.7 billion projected by the central bank. The forecast represented a new high in itself.

Intercompany borrowings accounted for more than 65% of last year’s net inflow, as foreign firms placed $5.19 billion -- 68.6% over the $3.08 billion recorded in 2015 -- in debt instruments of Philippine subsidiaries and affiliates.

Equity and investment fund shares accounted for $2.75 billion, a 7.1% increase from the $2.56 billion booked in 2015. Net equity infusion rose 12% to $2.04 billion from $1.82 billion, making up for the 4.9% decrease in reinvestment of earnings to $710 million from $747 million.

In December alone, the net FDI inflow more than doubled to $669 million from the $272 million registered in the comparable 2015 period.

More than half or $415 million of the net inflow in December came from placements in debt instruments. Lending to Philippine subsidiaries or affiliates almost tripled from the $139 million reported a year earlier.

Investments in equity and investment fund shares nearly doubled to $254 million from $133 million. Net equity capital infusion surged 2.7 times to $206 million from $77 million, offsetting the 16.1% drop in reinvestment of earnings to $47 million from $56 million.

Investors from Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, the United States and Taiwan made most of the equity infusions largely to financial and insurance; arts, entertainment and recreation; manufacturing; real estate; and construction activities.

“FDI inflows remained robust, supported by strong investors’ confidence in the country’s solid macroeconomic fundamentals,” the BSP noted in a statement accompanying the data.


In separate e-mail interviews, economists noted how the growth story of the domestic economy cancelled out concerns over possible changes in policy direction both in the Philippines and its major trading partner, the US.

“It is clear that the Philippine economic growth story is intact despite all the uncertainties of US policies and the continuous noise of domestic politics,” Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion, chief economist of the Union Bank of the Philippines, noted in an e-mailed correspondence.

Mr. Asuncion had expected net FDIs to the Philippines to grow slower and reach at least $7 billion toward the yearend.

“This significant growth, I believe, is on the back of solid macroeconomic fundamentals for the past 18 years or 72 quarters. This clearly means that the Philippines’ growth story is no fluke. Foreign investors recognize this observation with the 40.7% FDI growth for 2016,” Mr. Asuncion said.

Guian Angelo S. Dumalagan, market economist at Land Bank of the Philippines, cited the bright prospects for the Philippine economy as well.

“Last year, FDI inflows were affected by the country’s political transition and the US presidential election. These factors, however, were not enough to overshadow the country’s strong economic prospects,” Mr. Dumalagan said.

Foreign investors have nevertheless raised concerns over inefficient government bureaucracy, inadequate supply of infrastructure, corruption and tax regulations last year, another economist noted, citing The Global Competitiveness Report 2016-2017 of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

“I also cite infrastructure as one of the most compelling reasons why it’s difficult to commit to investing in the Philippines,” the economist said.

“Imagine setting up a manufacturing plant here only to find out we have one of the most expensive and unreliable electricity, highways are bogged down in traffic, airports have only 1.5 runways and flooding is a problem in the region’s worst port system,” the economist added.

The economist further noted the retreat of the Philippines by 10 notches in the Global Competitiveness Index, ranking 57th out of 138 economies covered in the report released by the WEF three months after President Rodrigo R. Duterte took office in end-June 2016.

“Investors now have a stark concern about the level of institutions in the country going forward. This moves hand in hand with the upholding of the rule of law, which can get foreign players a little bit concerned,” the economist said.

Landbank’s Mr. Dumalagan, however, expects the Philippines to continue registering net FDI inflows this year on the sustained strength of the domestic economy along with the improving economic conditions abroad.

“Japan and the US, two of the country’s major sources of FDIs, are expected to show stronger growth this year, suggesting potentially ample investable funds from these economic giants despite possibly lesser monetary accommodation from the Bank of Japan and the US Federal Reserve,” Mr. Dumalagan said.

“The protectionist stance of the new US administration, however, poses a risk, as it could potentially reduce the amount of capital inflows from the US.”

FDIs in the Philippines, by Reuters’ reckoning, are minuscule compared with that in regional peers due to poor infrastructure, high power costs and foreign ownership restrictions in key industries. - Business World Online

Philippine Export Rose Up 22.5% to $5.1 Billion USD - Fastest in 3 Years

Electronics Philippine Export Rose Up 22.5% to $5.1 Billion USD - Fastest in 3 Years
Electronics Export in the Philippines Rose up 22.5% January to $5.1 Billion US Dollars

Exports from the Philippines grew at their fastest clip in three years in January as shipments of electronics took off.

Exports rose at their quickest pace in three years in January on demand for technology goods and commodities, while continuing strong imports underlined a buoyant domestic economy.

The Southeast Asian economy is one of the fastest growing in the world and strengthening global trade could complement robust domestic consumption as President Rodrigo Duterte's government aims to sustain annual growth above 7 percent during his six-year term.

Exports in January rose 22.5 percent from a year earlier, gaining for a second month in a row, while imports jumped 9.1 percent, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed on Friday.

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Country’s exports jumped 22.5 per cent year on year to $5.1bn in January, coming in above a median forecast from economists compiled by Bloomberg of 10.5 per cent growth.

Shipments of electronics, the country’s top export accounting for 46.1 per cent of total export revenue in January, increased 10.4 per cent year on year to $2.4bn.

Japan remained the Philippines’s largest export destination accounting for 17.3 per cent of total exports or $887.7m with the US its second largest market accounting for $847m.

Imports rose 9.1 percent year on year to $7.4bn, which was slightly below economists’ median estimate of a 10 per cent increase.

This resulted in the trade deficit of$2.3bn, coming in below estimates of $2.9bn and improving on the $2.56bn deficit in December.

Vishnu Varathan, senior economist at Mizuho Bank, said the spike in exports was largely in line with the strength in shipments elsewhere in Asia.

"There is a confluence of low-base effect and also seasonal uptick that went into the end of last year," he said.

Eight of the country's top 10 export products rose in January, with electronics up 10.4 percent from a year earlier. Electronics remained the country's No. 1 export, accounting for 46.1 percent of total revenue in January.

The country's biggest imports for the month were electronics, mineral fuels, transport equipment, industrial machinery, and iron and steel.

Exports to the country's top trading partners such as the United States and China increased 21.2 percent and 23.6 percent, respectively, in January from a year earlier. Shipments to Japan, the biggest export market, fell 6.6 percent.

While the Philippine economy is largely driven by domestic consumption, Varathan said it would also be buffeted by any change in external trends.

"We want to see how trade negotiations between the U.S. and China pan out and the corresponding knock-on effect that you'll see in Asia," Varathan said. With reports from Financial Times and Reuters 

President Duterte at the Ground Breaking of ₱27 billion Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway in Cebu Philippines

Ground Breaking of ₱27 billion Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway in Cebu Philippines
Ground Breaking of Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway

Around 300 officials in Central Visayas joined with  President Rodrigo Duterte in the groundbreaking ceremony for the ₱27 billion Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway.

The event will take place in Cordova town at 3 p.m. but prior to that, Duterte will hop on a chopper to inspect from the air the site in Cebu City where the other end of the bridge will land.

Jonjie Gonzales, chief of staff of Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino, said Dino will join the President during the aerial inspection.

During the groundbreaking, Secretary Adelino Sitoy, the Presidential Adviser on Legislative Matters, will deliver the welcome message, which will be followed by speeches from Cebu City Mayor Tomas and Manuel Pangilinan, chairman of the Metro Pacific Tollways Development Corporation.

From Cordova, Duterte will proceed to Waterfront Mactan Airport Hotel and Casino to induct the new officers of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry at 5 p.m. The President is expected to speak at the gathering.

He is scheduled to fly to Davao after the event.
Meanwhile, Pangilinan together with Rodrigo Franco, president of MPTDC, Osmeña, Cordova Mayor Mary Therese Sitoy-Cho and former Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy are expected to media briefing on the bridge at Radisson Blu in Cebu City.

Pilipog Bridge
(Pilipog is a binisaya term which means "small kind")

Because the groundbreaking ceremony is just a few meters away from the Pilipog Bridge in Cordova, the bridge will be closed to all vehicles from 12 noon until 4:30 p.m., said the Cordova Response Emergency And Traffic Enforcement (CREATE).

The bridge connects Cordova and Lapu-Lapu City.

All vehicles from Lapu-Lapu City can travel up to the Tacan market area in Babag 2 while those coming from Cordova town proper can travel to the corner of Barangay Ibabao.

Motorists going to and from Cordova are advised to take the Gabi Bridge in going to and from Lapu-Lapu City.

New Route

Spanning eight kilometers, CCLEX will connect Cordova to Cebu City and will serve as an alternate route in going to and from the Mactan Cebu International Airport.

Being a toll bridge facility to be built under a private-public partnership (PPP) scheme, the project will enable the LGUs of Cebu City and Cordova to provide its constituents badly needed infrastructure with private sector funding.

The MPTDC, through its subsidiary, the Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corporation will design, build and operate the bridge.

MPTDC is one of the Philippines’ investment holding companies with proven track record in designing, constructing, financing, and operating toll facilities and expressways.

It currently operates some of the countries’ major expressways such as the North Luzon Expressway, Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway and Manila Cavite Toll Expressway, paving the way for faster and more efficient movement of transportation, goods and services in central areas of the Philippines. (FREEMAN)

Where to Stay in Cebu?

Book the cheapest to the most elegant hotel in cebu in a very affordable prices. 

US-Asean Business Council upbeat on Philippine Economic Prospects

In Photo: Members of the US-Asean Business Council (US-ABC) hosted a roundtable for Trade Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado on February 22 in Washington, D.C.
In Photo: Members of the US-Asean Business Council (US-ABC) hosted a roundtable for Trade Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado on February 22 in Washington, D.C.Photo: Business Mirror

‘FOR the first time in three years, the Philippines made it to the worldwide list of top 20 investment destinations of multinational enterprises,” Trade Undersecretary for Industry Promotion Group Nora K. Terrado told participants in a roundtable organized by the US-Asean Business Council (US-ABC) on February 22 in Washington, D.C.

Terrado said with the country’s 6.8-percent GDP growth in 2016, the Philippines continues to be one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies, exhibiting resilience amid external shocks.

This message highlighted Terrado’s presentation about the country’s improving global competitiveness ranking.

Terrado discussed the current administration’s 10-point socio-economic agenda, which aims to sustain improvements in the Philippine investment climate, support rural development, and further enhance the country’s infrastructure, human capital and social-protection programs.

“The whole government is tasked to continue to improve the ease of doing business in the Philippines,” Terrado said.

As chair for Asean 2017 Summit, the Philippines is poised to highlight the region’s strengths by engaging the international business community, foreign governments and investors through the Asean Business and Investment Program (Abip).

As chairman for the Asean Committee on Business and Investment Promotion, Terrado urged the US-ABC and its members to participate in the business activities to be held in the Philippines, focusing on themes, such as regulatory coherence, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), women and youth entrepreneurship, and innovation.

Marc Mealy, vice president for policy of the US-ABC, expressed positive feedback after the dialogue with Terrado.

“With the Philippines serving as the current Asean chairman and having one of the highest GDP growth rates in Asia, the representatives from the 13 American multinational companies who participated were keen to receive the undersecretary’s update on current business trends in the Philippines and the economic priorities of the Duterte administration,” Mealy said. “The Council looks forward to conducting our 2017 senior executives business mission to the Philippines later this year.”

The US-ABC members that participated in the dialogue were Coca-Cola, Fluor, Citi and Philip Morris, among others. - BUSINESS MIRROR

Pantawid Gutom Cash Transfer in the Philippines Lauded by World Bank as world's best


Conditional cash transfer beneficiaries PHOTO FROM BLOGS.ADB.ORG

PH cash transfer program among world’s best–World Bank

The World Bank gave the country’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program high marks, saying it was one of the “largest and best-targeted social safety net programs in the world.”

Ruslan Yemstov, World Bank’s leading economist on social protection and labor, presented on Wednesday the results of the bank’s “The State of Social Safety Nets 2015” report which showed that 82 percent of the benefits of the Philippines’ CCT program went to the bottom 40 percent of the population and noted that it was “way superior” to previous social programs.

“The poor and vulnerable in the Philippines benefit from what is today one of the largest and best-targeted social safety net programs in the world,” said Yemstov, who led the team that prepared the WB report, said.

Protecting families

Social safety net programs include cash and in-kind transfers to poor households with the goal of protecting families from the impact of economic shocks, natural disasters, and other crises; ensuring that children grow up healthy, well-fed and stay in school; empowering women and girls, and creating jobs.

According to the World Bank report, more than 1.9 billion people in 136 low- and middle-income countries benefit from social safety net programs.

Across the world, CCT programs account for over 50 percent of social safety net programs, and are being implemented in 64 countries—a dramatic increase from two countries in 1997.

The report also noted that CCT had positive spillover effects on the local economy of target communities. Every dollar transferred to beneficiaries generates income ranging from $1.34 to $2.52 in local communities (“multiplier effects”).

Cash transfers boost school enrollment and attendance, increase live births in safer facilities, improve prenatal and postnatal care, promote regular growth monitoring of children during critically important early ages, and enhance food security, the report said.

In the Philippines, almost 4.5 million households are enrolled in the CCT, or Pantawid Pamilya program, from only 360,000 households in 2008.

“CCT grants account for an average of 11 percent of the income of the poorest recipient households,” noted World Bank Country Director Motoo Konishi.

Keep kids healthy and in school

Evaluation studies, according to Konishi, also show that CCT in the Philippines is delivering on its objectives: keeping poor children healthy and in school.

The program increased prenatal and postnatal care by 10 percentage points and increased the delivery of babies in health facilities by skilled health professionals by 20 percentage points. Children benefited by receiving higher intake of vitamin A and iron supplementation by around 12 percentage points and by increased weight monitoring visits to health facilities by 18 percentage points.

Aleksandra Posarac, program leader of the World Bank in Manila, said the Philippines has developed a system “way superior” to previous ones.

She lauded the government’s information management system, called Listahanan,” that identifies who and where the poor are in the country.

Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, whose agency is the lead implementor of the social safety net program, said the data base, “in a way, makes it corruption-proof.” - INQUIRER

Controversial ₱700-million Iloilo Convention Center opens for APEC Summit


PNoy opens Iloilo Convention Center

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III led on Monday the inauguration of the controversial ₱700-million Iloilo Convention Center (ICC).

Aquino opened the state-of-the-art convention facility located on a 1.7-hectare lot in Iloilo Business Park, Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

The ICC became controversial last year after former provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada Jr. alleged that the structure was overpriced and implicated Senate President Franklin Drilon, an Ilonggo.

Mejorada accused Drilon of conspiring with a supposedly favored contractor to rig the bidding of the project.

Mejorada alleged that W.V. Coscoluella and Associates, which designed the building, was awarded a contract without a public bidding and that construction was overpriced by ₱488 million.


President Aquino at the inauguration of the Iloilo Convention Center in Iloilo City. Official Gazette PH

Drilon was charged with graft before the Office of the Ombudsman in October 2014, but the charge was dismissed for lack of merit.

Two stories high with a floor area of 11,832 square meters, the ICC can accommodate over 3,000 guests. It will be used as one of the venues for some high-level ministerial meetings of this year's Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit.

The construction of the ICC began in 2013 and was based on a design inspired by Iloilo's Dinagyang and Paraw festivals.

Aquino also joined the ceremonial launch of the Iloilo Business Park and Richmonde Hotel Iloilo. - Louis Bacani @philSTAR

Philippines inflation falls to two-decade low

Philippines, Investment in the Philippines, Asia, Economy, Inflation, Deflation


Image source: The Financial Times


If you need evidence that the world faces a "third deflationary wave," look no further than the Philippines.


Annual inflation in the Philippines was just 0.6 per cent in August, the lowest reading in more than two decades of records. Economists had forecast a 0.7 per cent reading, following a 0.8 per cent print in July.


The central bank targets headline inflation target at 3 per cent, plus or minus one per cent. Actual inflation has come in below that band for four months.


The downward trajectory in inflation across much of Asia reflects weak demand, lower commodity prices and a decline in costs for manufactured goods. Currency devaluation has done little to thwart the deflationary threat: the Philippines' peso has depreciated more than 15 per cent since March 2013 and now trades at ₱ 46.79 per dollar, about 8 per cent weaker than its five year average.


Core inflation, which strips out volatile items to get a better sense of underlying trends, looks a little better on the whole but its August reading was well below forecasts. In August the reading was 1.6 per cent year-on-year, versus forecasts at 1.9 per cent. The downward trajectory is clear: in March the reading was 2.7 per cent; one year ago it was 3.4 per cent.


A quarterly index of consumer price inflation across Asia (ex-Japan) confirms this trend is found across the continent. The second quarter reading of 2.06 per cent was about half the rate seen in 2012 and a two-thirds below the rate in 2011. As explained in the FT earlier this week, these trends are likely to intensify as the Federal Reserve lifts interest rates, causing the US dollar to rise and yield-seeking investors to take cash out of emerging markets.


"In sum," wrote Dominic Rossi, global chief investment officer at Fidelity Worldwide Investment, "this third deflationary wave will mean that world GDP will continue to operate at a level below potential output. Downward pressure on prices will persist and a supply-side contraction in developing nations will be required before prices stabilize. A further fall in potential global output is now unavoidable. The adjustments to GDP forecasts are still ahead of us." - The Financial Times

Hanjin unveils first Philippine-made 180 Meters Kaprijke LPG carrier for Belguim's Savery


First Philippine Made 180 meters long LPG carrier ship. image: philSTAR

Hanjin unveils first Philippine-made LPG carrier

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines – Korea’s shipbuilding giant Hanjin Heavy Industry and Construction Co., Ltd.–Philippines (HHIC-Phil) recently unveiled the first-ever Philippine-made Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) carrier.

The LPG carrier measures 180 meters in length, 29.4m in breadth and 18m in depth.

It was ordered by Belgian shipping company Exmar Shipping BVBA and was christened as “Kaprijke” by company owner Saverys family.

Construction of the LPG carrier began in June of last year.

The project has once again affirmed the world-class craftsmanship of Filipino workers in the global shipbuilding industry.

In a statement, HHIC-Phil president Jeong Sup Shim recounted the challenges the company had to go through in putting up the state-of-the-art shipyard in the country’s premier freeport.

He attributed the company’s success to the support of the Philippine government and outstanding work ethic of Hanjin shipyard workers.

“It is our company’s earnest desire and long term commitment to catapult the Philippines as the number one shipbuilding country in the world,” Shim said.

Citing the June 2015 edition of the shipping journal published by highly authoritative Europe-based Clarksons Research, “Both the Philippines and HHIC-Phil Inc. have been making great strides in the international business scene, motivating us to push ourselves to the limit to bring more prosperity not only for our company but also for our generous host – the Filipino people,” Shim further said.

“The Philippines is currently ranked fourth in the world in terms of order book by builder country with 2.1 gross compensated tonnage (CGT) for new vessel,” Shim said.

Hanjin Subic shipyard is the 10th largest shipyard in the world in terms of order book by shipyard, accounting for 1.8 GCT or 74 percent of the Philippines’ CGT for new vessels.

The shipbuilding company still has seven LPG carriers in the company’s order book to be delivered in the immediate future.

In 2012, HHIC-Phil Inc. put the country in the worldwide spotlight with the simultaneous inauguration of two Suezmax Crude Oil Tankers first ever built on Philippine shores.

HHIC-Phil Inc. has been building huge commercial vessels ranging from container ships to bulk carriers, crude oil tankers and off-shore structures mainly for overseas clients since 2008. Its Subic shipyard boasts of one of the largest drydocks in the world today.

The company has invested around $1.7 billion so far. Its shipyard is currently home to almost 29,000 workers and still counting.

HHIC-Phil operates a Skill Development Center, a multi-million world class training facility located at the heart of the Subic Bay Freeport’s Industrial Park. - philSTAR

Texas Instruments invests $10 million to expand Philippines facility


Texas Instruments is a world leading manufacturer of Integrated Circuits (IC) used for mobiles phones and other electronic gadgets. Image:

Texas Instruments Inc. has confirmed that it’s investing $10 million to expand its product distribution center in Clark Freeport, the Philippines.

A groundbreaking ceremony took place there last week, according to news reports from the Philippines.

It’s part of an overall $1 billion TI said in 2007 that it would invest in its Clark Freeport facilities through 2017, but it has been increased to $1.3 billion, according to a company spokeswoman.

“Our current product distribution center is overflowing; we do not have enough space do an efficient job on distributing,” Mohammad Yunus, president of TI Philippines, told the Pampanga Sun Times in the Philippines. Last quarter, TI shipped 1.5 billion semiconductor units from the Clark Freeport facility and plans to ship 1.9 billion units this quarter, he said.

“We are currently looking on the 2 billion units which could be a new record for any Texas Instrument site anywhere in the world,” Yunus said in the Sun Times.

TI built its first assembly and test site in the Philippines in Baguio City in 1979. In 2009, it opened a second facility in the Clark Freeport Zone,  doubling the company’s capacity in the Philippines. - The Dallas Morning News

Philippine natural and organic products to be featured in Maryland, USA trade show September


Nine Philippine companies will be joining the Natural Products Expo East, the largest natural, organic, and healthy products event in the US East Coast, from September 17 to 19 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Maryland. STAR/File photo

MANILA, Philippines — Nine Philippine companies will be joining the Natural Products Expo East, the largest natural, organic, and healthy products event in the US East Coast, from September 17 to 19 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Maryland.

The Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) through the DA-Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) organized the following natural product exporters to participate in this event—Brandexports Philippines, Inc., Elemie Naturals Inc., GreenLife Coconut Products Philippines Inc., Nutramedica, Inc., Orich International Traders, Inc., Prime Fruits International, Incorporated, Sweet Pacific Foodfarms Product, Team Asia Corporation, and Tropicana Food Products Inc.

A variety of coconut products will be available to the American public such as coconut water, milk, milk powder, flour, cider vinegar, coconut nutraceutical products, desiccated coconut, coconut sugar, organic extra virgin coconut oil and virgin coconut oil beauty pearls. The coconut is known as the tree of life in the Philippines because of the seemingly endless list of products and by-products derived from all its parts.

Other Philippine products to be featured in the trade show are body products made from pili, handcrafted bath soaps, topical scalp products, vinegar, dried mangoes, noodles, juices and fruit juice drinks, camote (sweet potato) and banana chips, condiments and sauces.

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. expressed optimism in the growing share of the Philippines in the natural products market and encouraged US buyers to take advantage of the growing demand for such products.

“The Philippines has long been producing natural, organic, and healthy agricultural products as well as nutritionally-dense foods considered ‘superfoods’ abroad. The Natural Products Expo East is the perfect venue for sellers to bring their products to the attention of the US buyers. I am glad Philippine companies, with the help of the Department of Agriculture and our Agricultural Attaché, have penetrated this market. I hope more Philippine businesses will follow soon,” said Ambassador Cuisia.

The 2014 Market Overview of Natural Foods Merchandiser, a leading media source and information provider for the healthy products industry, showed that US nationwide sales of all natural and organic products jumped 9 percent to nearly $99 billion last year.

According to Philippine Agriculture Attaché to the US Dr. Josyline C. Javelosa, this has also led to a growth in the Natural Products Expo.

“More retail buyers are walking the show floor at Expo East than ever before, looking for the newest quality products to bring back to their stores,” Dr. Javelosa said.

The trade show will reportedly bring over 22,000 attendees and more than 1,800 exhibitors, with approximately 30 percent of those exhibiting for the first time and new to the marketplace, according to Natural Product Expo East.

This year, the expo will include for the first time a Farm-to-Market Tour where attendees will have the opportunity to visit some of Baltimore’s nearby farms and retail stores that source from them. - philSTAR

Silverpack investing ₱500 Million for Philippine plant


In an interview, a Silverpack official said the company plans to conquer Southeast Asia over the next decade through aggressive expansion of its manufacturing facilities and sales office across the region. image: philSTAR

MANILA, Philippines - Multinational packaging firm Silverpack Sdn Bhd is looking to invest ₱500 million to put up its first manufacturing plant in the country in the next two to three years.

In an interview, a Silverpack official said the company plans to conquer Southeast Asia over the next decade through aggressive expansion of its manufacturing facilities and sales office across the region.

"Our plan is to set up manufacturing plants in Asean in 10 years' time. We already have a factory in Malaysia and China. We have sales offices in Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand. We also need to set up sales offices in the entire Southeast Asia," Silverpack regional sales director Jeffrey Ng said.

In the Philippines, Ng said the company intends to gather a sizable market share initially before putting up a manufacturing plant in two to three years.

Ng said Silverpack is currently in talks with large food manufacturing companies in the Philippines for the export of its products.

"We are expanding because companies are also expanding. When they do well, we will do well as well," he said.

Silverpack's clients in Philippines are still mostly small and medium enterprises which import about ₱3 million to ₱4 million worth of products a month.

The company is looking to tap large Filipino conglomerates which invest in their own packaging plants for their businesses.

Ng said a candy manufacturer, for instance, spends 10 percent of its total cost for packaging alone while a high value goods manufacturer spends five to seven percent.

Silverpack's packaging materials are used by a wide range of food industries such as coffee, tea, confectionery, milk products, snacks, biscuits, instant food items, oil, seafood, pet food, sweets, jelly top seal, fruit drinks, personal care series, and moon cakes.

The Embassy of Malaysia Trade Office (Matrade) Manila said Silverpack is among the top five packaging companies in Malaysia at present.

Matrade commissioner Nyaee Ayup said Silverpack's expertise in packaging would help support a wide range of food industries in the Philippines.

"Instead of setting up their own packaging division, the food manufacturers in the Philippines can focus on their main line of business, if they will tap Silverpack for their packaging needs," Ayup said. - With Pia Lee Brago @philSTAR

World-renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs: Philippines has much to teach world


LAUNCHING. Jeffrey Sachs, who serves as the director of both SDSN and the Earth Institute, launches SDSN's local chapter alongside NEDA Director General Arsenio Balisacan. Photos by Chris Schnabel / Rappler

Jeffrey Sachs: Philippines has much to teach world

The country should be a world leader in sustainable development, says the renowned US economist

MANILA, Philippines – World-renowned economist and bestselling author Dr Jeffrey Sachs wants the Philippines to be one of the world's leaders for sustainable development.

"The country has much to offer, so much to teach the world, and so much to benefit from,” said Sachs, who is in the country to formally launch the Sustainable Development Solutions Network Philippines (SDSN Philippines), alongside National and Economic Development Authority (NEDA) chief Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan on Monday, August 3.

In his public lecture Monday titled "The Age of Sustainable Development,” which is also the title of his newest book, he gave a context of the SDSN Philippines and the challenge it faces.

The local chapter will have the responsibility of pulling the country’s leading thinkers to work side by side with NEDA, universities, political and business leaders, and communities to find paths to sustainable development in this country, he explained.

It also comes at a time of optimism in the country and that will be helpful, he added.

Sustainable Development Goals

SDSN Philippines is the local chapter of the United Nations SDSN Network established by UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon in 2012.

Directed by Sachs, the SDSN’s aim is to help find concrete solutions to some of the world’s most pressing environmental, social, and economic problems to achieve sustainable development.

To achieve this, the SDSN network has set another series of goals called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These new goals will formally succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in September of this year.


LECTURING. Jeffrey Sachs details the Social Development Goals and the challenges that the global community faces in achieving them to an audience of Philippine stakeholders.

Like MDGs, SDGs are a set of goals covering social, economic, and environmental issues spread by the UN for states and international bodies to use in planning and implementing development policy.

Their exact wording was finalized by the UN general assembly Monday.

This time the goal is to end all poverty, not just cut it in half, by 2030, Sachs said.

Unlike MDGs, Sachs explained, SDGs are universal and will need to be adopted by rich and poor countries alike.

They call on all countries to stop the dominant pattern of focusing only on the economic bottom line but to take development in a holistic manner.

Change direction

“It can’t be business as usual. It’s no longer enough to just achieve economic development. We need a change of direction,” Sachs said.

The focus is on pursuing economic development that is also socially inclusive and environmental friendly, he added.

The SDGs also put forward a shared vision of how international leaders want to see the world to be in 2030.

Education is also a huge agenda, one that will be spread over 15 years with a global knowledge base as its core, Sachs said.

Universities, research laboratories, and think tanks are the core of the SDSN, although it partners with business, government, and civil society, he said.

The idea is to think of how the world is going to do this because the scale of the challenge requires new ways of thinking, technology, and training, Sachs explained.

Universities' role

This, he shared, is why universities should play a leadership role in the project.

Educational institutions are incubators of innovation and have the ability to create solutions of a global scale – which is what's needed to solve big problems such as poverty and climate change, according to Sachs.

Sachs cited as examples the economic emergence of South Korea, which focused on a knowledge-based economy, and the creation of the Silicon Valley ecosystem in the US – both of which scaled using innovation.

Transforming the local economy into a knowledge-based one is a key step for the Philippines and other developing nations toward sustainable development, Sachs said.


FEEDBACK. Sachs, alongside Balisacan and former NEDA Director General professor Solita Monsod listen to reactions from stakeholder groups on Sustainable Development Goals.

Lessons from MDGs

With the SDGs, the Philippines needs to learn lessons from implementation of the previous MDGs, Balisacan said.

The Philippines has seen mixed results with the MDGs, with the country fulfilling targets related to universal primary education; lowering infant mortality; reducing malaria incidence; and enhancing clean water access for households, among others.

The country is not on track to meet goals for maternal mortality, AIDS/HIV prevention, reproductive health access, and completion rates for elementary schools.

"Putting timelines in place as we move to 2030, and being more conscious about assigning responsibility especially in government and the academe are some of the things we need to improve on," he explained.

Political will must also be mustered to push through institutional changes needed.

Above all, more financing for sustainable development should be planned and organized, especially in innovation through more funding for universities and research & development centers, Balisacan added.

The tasks are enormous and so are the challenges, he explained.

“The good thing is now that the economy is in good shape, we no longer have an excuse to not invest in sustainable development," Balisacan said. –

Globe Telecom Takes over in ₱1.83-Billion buyout deal for Bayantel stake


Globe takes over Bayantel. image: Business World Online

GLOBE Telecom, Inc. has reached a buy-out deal worth 1.83 billion with the Lopez group that will give the Ayala-led company full control of cash-strapped Bayan Telecommunications, Inc.

The move is seen to help Bayantel completely get out of the doldrums by 2023.

"Globe Telecom, Inc. has agreed to purchase from Bayan Telecommunications Holdings, Corporation (BTHC) and Lopez Holdings, Corporation (LHC) all the equity in the capital stock of Bayan Telecommunications, Inc. that is held by BTHC and LHC, valued at approximately 1.83 Billion Php," Globe said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange yesterday.

Globe will boost its control over Bayantel to 98.57% from 56.87%, through a debt-to-equity conversion scheme involving up to 70.76 million shares. The transaction is under Bayantel's rehabilitation plan and was approved by the National Telecommunications Commission on July 2.

Globe already acquired a 38% interest in Bayantel in October 2013 after the Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 158 approved the amended rehabilitation plan jointly filed by the companies, where Globe converted Bayantel's debt into common shares, according to the listed telecommunication firm's 2014 annual report.

Globe, as a principal creditor, had planned to further convert a portion of the $423.3-million debt, so it can hike its stake to as high as 56.6%.

"The debt-to-equity conversion transaction between Globe and Bayan will precisely enable the latter's continued viability as a service provider, allowing it to exit rehabilitation and enhance its current service offering to the public," Globe's General Legal Counsel Froilan M. Castelo had said in a July 3 mobile phone reply.

"Globe will certainly add value to Bayantel, bringing financial and technical support and synergies, as well as experience and our own culture of innovation," he added.

Globe had said it can address "increasing demand" for voice, short message, and mobile data services through the joint use of frequencies originally assigned to Bayantel. In return, Bayantel would be able to offer mobile telecommunications.

Globe shares added 16 or 0.63% to close at 2,544 apiece on Tuesday. - Business World Online

Philippines Budget Surplus expanded to ₱67.3 Billion Php in May 2015


PHL budget surplus widens nearly 6 times in May

More Amid the pressing need to boost public spending to pump-prime the economy, government revenues continued to outpace expenditures for the second month this year.

The budget surplus expanded by almost six times to 67.3 billion Php in May from 11.8 billion Php a year earlier, figures released by the Department of Finance (DOF) on Monday showed. 

The amount widens the 52.6 billion Php surplus reported in April, bringing the budget balance to a surplus of 86.4 billion Php in the first five months of the year. In comparison, the government registered an 8.5- billion Php surplus in January to May last year.

Revenues expanded by 41 percent to 242.5 Php billion in May. In January-to-May, revenues were 16 percent higher at 922.2 billion Php, according to the DOF.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue raked in 128.5 billion Php while the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of the Treasury collected 26.7 billion Php and 11.0 billion. Other offices contributed P76.4 billion, reflecting the 60.1 billion Php of coconut levy-related remittances.

Government expenditures increased by 9 percent to 175.2 billion Php, including 20.6 billion Php in interest payments. But the amount represents only about 72 percent of the total revenues generated during the month.

In January to May, expenditures reached 835.7 billion Php, a 6 percent increase from a year earlier. Interest payments decreased by 2 percent to 136.9 billion Php, accounting for 16 percent of total expenditures.

"Various volatile events in the global landscape serve as stark reminders of the importance of the hard work of reform carefully sustained by prudent fiscal management. We continue to build ample safeguards protecting the country from shocks that pose risks to our upward trajectory," Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said. 

But economists, credit watchers and banks have cited slow government spending for the worse-than-expected performance of the Philippine economy this year.

Even the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) admitted that meeting the lower end of the government's growth target of 7 percent to 8 percent would be difficult given the slowdown in global demand.

The government must focus on intervention in the agriculture and industry sectors to sustain the Philippine economy, former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno told GMA News Online.

"To me, ang dapat talagang palalakasin mo, side-by-side, ay agriculture and industry – meaning manufacturing, construction and power.

"Why agriculture? Because a third of the workforce is in agriculture and more than half of the poor is in rural areas," Diokno said.

A modern agriculture sector could translate into cheaper food prices and subsequently benefit the poor, ease the demand for higher wages and make inputs to food manufacturing cheaper, he added. – VS, GMA News


Japan agency upgrades PH's credit rating to BBB+


Japan credit rating agency raises Philippine rating

THE Philippines has received another credit rating upgrade, which is the highest rating the country has ever achieved.

In a report released Monday, Japan Credit Rating Agency Ltd. (JCR) gave the Philippines BBB+ from BBB rating. This was just a notch away from the minimum score in the "A" category.

The latest upgrade from JCR is the 22nd positive rating action (covering both improvement in outlook and actual credit scores) for the Philippines from major international credit rating agencies since 2010, the Investor Relations Office (IRO) of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said.

This development places the Philippines' credit rating two places ahead of Indonesia's BBB- and at par with that of India, whose economy is seven times the size of that of the Philippines.

"JCR is of the view that the Philippine economy will, by and large, sustain an annual growth of around 6 percent in the years to come driven by strong domestic demand," the rating agency said.

In the report, JCR highlighted the ability of the Philippines to maintain sound fiscal position, high external liquidity, and solid economic growth.

It also cited general stability in the country's political situation even as potential candidates for national positions gear up for the 2016 elections.

JCR also noted the stable social situation amid inroads in poverty reduction, with the poverty rate falling from 28.6 percent in 2009 to 25.8 percent in the first half of 2014.

The new credit rating is assigned a "stable" outlook, which means adjustment is unlikely in the short term.

Government economic officials welcomed the upgrade, which marked the third positive rating action from JCR over the past five years.

"The latest ratings decision of JCR, which makes the Philippines very close to securing a rating within the 'A' category, appropriately reflects the strength exhibited by the economy. Inflation has remained low, external liquidity ample, and banking system sound. All this has been achieved despite a challenging external environment," BSP Governor Amando Tetangco said.

"The upgrade to BBB+ is a recognition partly of how the country’s fiscal sector has transformed since 2010. Fiscal reforms, both legislative and administrative, have resulted in more buoyant revenue collections, manageable deficits, and lower debt service burden. The pace by which the debt burden has declined over the years is one solid proof of the rare kind of fiscal discipline that the Philippines exercises," Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said.

IRO, which serves as the government's central point of contact for credit-rating agencies, underscored the need for public vigilance to ensure that the Philippines keeps its hard-earned investment grade sovereign credit ratings beyond 2016.

"The Philippines has achieved unprecedented gains in its credit standing over the past five years. After suffering from stubborn speculative credit ratings not too long ago, the Philippines now enjoys a seal of good housekeeping from all major international credit rating agencies," IRO Executive Director Editha Martin said.

"There should be no turning back. The need to maintain good governance – which boosts confidence of investors, creditors, rating institutions, and the general public – even after a change in leadership in 2016 cannot be overemphasized," Martin said.- (SDR/Sunnex)

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