Industry News

BSP waives bank fees on OFW remittances
RP now a viable site for investment - banker
Global banks bullish on RP’s 2010 economic growth
Moody's gives RP stable outlook
Moody’s forecasts higher OFW remittances
1st quarter investments topped full ’09 record
Imports surge 30% to $4.26 billion in January, strongest growth in 7 years
Investment pledges double to P29.95b
OFW inflows hit record $17.35 billion in 2009
FDI inflows post double-digit growth in January-October
Exports rose in November after 13 months of decline
More vibrant markets seen: PSEi seen challenging 3,800 record posted in ’07
Driven by electronics: This year, RP may expect up to 15% rise in exports
GIR hit all time high of $45.03B in 2009
Peso-US Dollar rate closes at P45.83 to $1
Index continues to rise as investors gobble up stocks
Filipino businesses now more optimistic--report
WB sees 1.4% RP growth in 2009, 3.1% next year
World Bank sees brighter outlook for RP
World Bank hikes RP growth forecast to 1.4%
Economic prospects in 2010 turn rosier
Remittances continue to drive RP growth
Higher RP growth seen despite ‘Ondoy’
Metrobank, UA&P see higher remittances, 2.2% GDP growth
Resurgent peso closes at 46.70
UBS revises RP growth forecast to 1.3% in 2009
Peso seen breaking into 46:$1 territory
Bank raises economic growth forecast for RP
Forex reserves breach $40B mark
Consumer loans up 3.3%
NEDA sees sustained GDP growth after 2009
Q2 economic growth seen at 2%
Stocks post biggest single-day gain on rosy global outlook
Banks stop tightening credit standards
Stocks surge 5.11% fuelled by US rally
BPI forecasts double-digit growth in remittances
BIS regional representative sees RP growth in second semester
Bankers say RP on upside of recovery
BPI sees hefty growth of its remittance service from US and Europe
Campos family finalizing masterplan for 23-hectare Pasig-Mandaluyong CBD
Century Properties plans to diversify into middle-income market
Developers celebrate early completion of SOHO Central
Century Properties sets sights on mid-market
SOHO Central in Mandaluyong turned over to owners ahead of schedule
Remittances hit $8.5 billion in first 6 months
Moody's hikes RP rating due to resilient economy
Bangko Sentral notes growing investments by OFWs
'Hot' money inflows surged in May
RP not likely to slip into recession
Exports seen to pick up as global economy recovers
Labor, agri accords signed in Seoul
Peso expected to trade well in second half
OFW inflows remain strong amid crisis
Shares close 1.05% higher
Alternative tourists flocking to the Philippines
Stock consolidation seen after strong rally
Economists lower inflation forecast to 4% this year
Shares close 0.14% higher
Job loss a threat on the wane
Property issues lift stocks
Stocks surge 2.8%
Stocks rise on good profit reports
Expressways to Progress
Peso a shelter in the financial storm
RP seen avoiding recession this year
41,000 jobs in Visayas, Luzon
Business process outsourcing sector expects 200% increase in jobs this year
OFW remittances hit record high of $16.4 billion
Philippines one of Asia’s bright spots
Global property site rates RP gem of an investment
60,000 OFWs hired last month
BSP chief sees no ratings downgrade
Foreign businessmen remain upbeat on RP
Stocks jump 6%; peso rallies
DBS more optimistic on Q3 than NEDA



BSP waives bank fees on OFW remittances
June 21, 2010
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has agreed to waive the fees imposed on banks that use the Philippine Payments and Settlements System (Philpass) remit system as part of efforts to reduce the cost of sending money by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. told reporters that the central bank’s Monetary Board approved the lifting of the imposition of fees on banks that service OFW remittances through the central bank’s facility for six months.

“The Monetary Board has approved the waiver for six months of fees for banks servicing overseas Filipinos transacting through Philpass. This will help enable banks to lower their remittance fees,” Tetangco stressed.

OFWs and their beneficiaries are expected to enjoy lower remittance fees starting this quarter with the complete operation of the Philpass remit system resulting in savings of between P100 and P500 per transaction.

The system would reduce the charges to P50 for each remittance transaction as the current system charges between P150 and P550 per transaction.

OFW families are expected to save at least P92 million to as high as P922 million due to the faster and cheaper delivery of remittances to the beneficiaries at a lower rate.

The system also eliminates the need for courier services by commercial banks for the mode of fund transfer involving credit-to-other banks once the project becomes operational.

The Philpass Remit System involves the use of the BSP-Philpass as the local clearing house for the transfer of remittances from a local bank to another bank where the OFW beneficiary maintains an account.

The project is one of the initiatives undertaken by the BSP in coordination with the Association of Bank Remittance Officers, Inc. (ABROI) through a memorandum of agreement (MOA) last December.

The BSP said the full implementation of the project was originally scheduled in the first quarter of the year but only one bank has been able to migrate to the new system since the signing of the MOA.

According to the BSP, other member banks would be coming on stream once they resolve the remaining issues on hardware and system connectivity.

Other ABROI members expect to complete their migration to the new system only by end-May or end-June while two banks have indicated that they could comply only by end-September this year.

Last year, remittances went up by 5.4 percent to a new record level of $17.348 billion last year from $16.426 billion and exceeded the revised four percent growth forecast set by the central bank due to the steady growth of OFW remittances to the sustained demand for skilled Filipino workers overseas, particularly engineers, medical practitioners, and teachers.

The BSP recently upgraded its growth forecast for the amount of money sent home by overseas Filipinos to eight percent instead of six percent due to the strong demand for Filipino skilled workers.

So far, OFW remittances went up by 6.6 percent to $5.86 billion in the first four months of the year from $5.49 billion in the same period last year.



RP now a viable site for investment - banker
June 7, 2010
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Investors are now looking at the Philippines as a viable investment destination when compared to its Southeast Asian neighbors, the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ said.

In an interview, Trade Undersecretary Elmer C. Hernandez said Singapore-based Takashi Muraoka, Bank of Tokyo deputy chief executive officer for Asia, visited him to report that investors are bullish on the Philippines.

“He informed me that investors are concentrating on Indonesia and the Philippines right now,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said they expect more investments from Japan because Japanese firms are seriously considering expanding in Asia.

Hernandez said the political turmoil in Bangkok has resulted in a number of firms reconsidering their decision to infuse money in Thailand.

On Vietnam, Hernandez said the problem has been manpower. “The attrition rate in that country has been high because there is a limited supply of a good work force,” he said. With that, although the production cost in Vietnam is lower, the high turnover of employees means that the training cost for workers is high.

“The Philippines has a quality work force and the turn over rate is manageable,” Hernandez noted.

Hernandez likewise said that the problems the Philippines is experiencing does not bother potential foreign investors. However, he said the investors would like to know how the government is addressing the problem. “Now investors would like to know how the new administration will further enhance the Philippines as a good investment destination,” Hernandez said.



Global banks bullish on RP’s 2010 economic growth
May 30, 2010
Goodnewspilipinas.com

Top international investment banks Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Barclays have turned bullish on the Philippines after the country registered a better than expected 7.3 percent growth in the first quarter (January-March) of 2010.

The economic expansion was led by consumer spending, exports and remittances from overseas workers.

Consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, rose 5.9 percent last quarter from a year earlier, according to today’s report. Exports surged 28.1 percent in peso terms. Remittances from the more than 8 million Filipinos living overseas gained 11.3 percent in peso terms.

“The [first quarter of 2010 performance] confirms that the recovery process is firmly underway and we expect it to continue to get support from the two engines of flows—stable remittances and growing IT [information technology] service exports,” Goldman Sachs said.

JP Morgan’s growth outlook improved to 6.8 percent this year, revised from its earlier economic growth forecast of 4.5 percent.

London-based Barclays Capital also revised its growth forecast for the country from 5% to 6% this year.

Capital Economics, a global investment and securities research firm said that growth is likely to rise to 5.5 percent this year, higher than its previous forecast of 4.5 percent. It expects growth to be sustained on the back of robust dollar remittances from overseas Filipinos.

The National Statistical Coordination Board reported that with the Philippine economy expanding by 7.3 percent in the first quarter of the year, it was the highest quarterly growth recorded since the 8.3 percent-growth registered in the second quarter of 2007.

The 7.3 percent gross domestic product growth is a marked improvement from the 0.5 percent recorded in the first quarter of 2009 and is above the National Economic and Development Authority’s growth forecast for the period of 2.9 percent to 3.9 percent.



Moody's gives RP stable outlook
March 30, 2010
THE PHILIPPINE STAR

MANILA, Philippines - International credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service has given the Philippines a stable outlook on its Ba3 rating, saying that the prospects for the economy remain good.

At the same time, however, Moody’s said there are still a number of challenges that the country is facing, particularly on the fiscal side.

In a statement issued yesterday, Moody’s assistant vice president and analyst Christian De Guzman noted that the economy was one of the few countries in the Southeast Asian region to avoid year-on-year contractions during the global economic recession.

The Ba3 sovereign credit rating — which is three notches below investment grade — is also supported by the country’s “fortified external payments position,” De Guzman said.

The Philippine economy, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), grew by 0.9 percent last year, slower than the 3.8-percent growth in 2008. This year, the government expects the economy to grow anywhere from 2.6 percent to 3.6 percent although analysts said actual growth could be higher because of election spending.

De Guzman also said the country’s high level of gross international reserves has helped insulate the Philippines from external shocks.

”The country’s historically high level of official foreign exchange reserves has been bolstered by the resilience evident in remittances from the large numbers of Filipino workers overseas; this situation has helped buffer the economy and government finances from external shocks and has greatly supported its exchange rate stability,” de Guzman said.

The country’s gross international reserves hit $46 billion in February from $45.5 billion in January, latest data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed.

Furthermore, de Guzman said continued remittance inflows from overseas Filipinos and receipts from business-process outsourcing companies would continue to support the country’s current account and this would also fuel private consumption.

However, he also said the government needs to focus on fixing the country’s fragile fiscal position.

”There remains a dearth of investment spending relative to its rating and regional peers, thereby underpinning the importance of fiscal reform to generate higher revenues. That would enable adequate public investments and ultimately higher rates of potential growth,” Moody’s said.

The government’s budget deficit is expected to hit P293 billion this year from P298.5 billion last year. In February, the budget gap hit P33.2 billion, slightly higher than the P29- billion deficit recorded during the same month last year, according to the latest data from the Department of Finance (DOF).

the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Moody’s last rating action on the Philippines was taken in July last year when it upgraded the sovereign bond rating to Ba3, from B1, marking the first upgrade since Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran welcomed the action of Moody’s.

“We welcome the favorable rating given by Moody’s. We look forward to better ratings by improving on certain things that they notice in their assessment,” Beltran said.

Higher credit ratings cut the government’s cost of borrowing, making it easier for the government to borrow from commercial and local lenders. In January, the government sold $1.5 billion in dollar debt and another $1.1 billion worth of Samurai bonds in February.



Moody’s forecasts higher OFW remittances
March 30, 2010
MANILA BULLETIN

Money sent home by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to grow by 8 percent this year, higher than the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' (BSP) forecast of 6 percent, Moody's Investors Service said.

The higher than expected growth in remittances, Moody's said can be attributed to shift in the composition of OFWs towards higher skilled and higher paid occupations, such as those in the healthcare industry.

The shift from lower-wage occupations like those in construction, the credit rating firm said is one of the reasons for the resilience in remittances during the crisis last year.

“Such positions [in the healthcare industry] typically feature greater job security than lower-wage occupations,” Moody's said.

OFW remittances defied expectations at the onset of the crisis of a large fall by recording full-year growth of 5.6 percent last year.



1st quarter investments topped full ’09 record
March 26, 2010
MANILA STANDARD TODAY

The global economic recovery and rising confidence in the Philippine economy pushed the foreign portfolio investments in the first quarter of 2010 to $389 million, exceeding the full-year figure recorded in 2009.

“For the first three months, it is higher than the whole of 2009,” Bangko Sentral Assistant Gov. Ma. Cyd Tuano Amador told reporters in a news briefing Thursday.

Bangko Sentral Deputy Gov. Diwa Guinigundo said the figure was five times greater than the year-ago investment level.

Data from the Bangko Sentral showed that foreign portfolio investments reached $389.36 billion as of March 12, up from just $75.53 million a year ago.

With the strong foreign portfolio investments, Guinigundo hinted that Bangko Sentral might revised upward its balance of payments surplus target this year from a range of $3 billion to $4 billion.

“We can recalibrate our projection to reflect actual developments,” Guinigundo said, adding that the revision of the forecast would be made in April.

Guinigundo noted that “the global economic recovery is gaining more traction while the domestic economy and financial markets continue to show significant improvement.”

Bangko Sentral, in its Fourth Quarter 2009 BoP report, said the current account surplus reached $8.6 billion in 2009, equivalent to 5.3 percent of the gross domestic product.

“The more-than-two fold increase over the $3.6-billion surplus recorded in 2008 was brought about by the favorable performance of all the components of the current account, except the income account,” said Rosabel Guerrero, director of Bangko Sentral’s Department of Economic Statistics.

The balance of payments also reflected a surplus of $5.849 billion as of December, up from just $89- million a year ago.

These surpluses were recorded despite an $8.9 billion deficit in foreign trade.

Guerrero said remittances, exports from business process outsourcing, foreign direct investments and foreign portfolio investments led to stronger balance of payments position.

“Net current transfers receipts rose year-on-year by 4.7 percent to $16 billion,” Bangko Sentral said.

This was led by a 5.6-percent increase in remittances to $17.3 billion last year.



Imports surge 30% to $4.26 billion in January, strongest growth in 7 years
March 25, 2010
MANILA BULLETIN

The value of goods imported by the Philippines in January surged 30 percent from a year-earlier--its strongest monthly growth in more than seven years, extending a recovery that started in November that could underpin the performance of the export sector as well as the broader economy in the months ahead.

The National Statistics Office said Thursday imports in January increased to $4.26 billion from $3.27 billion a year earlier, buoyed by increased purchases of electronics, oil products and cereals. The January figure was also higher by 9.4 percent from $3.89 billion in December.

With exports for January earlier reported at $3.58 billion, a trade deficit of $682 million was recorded for the month, narrower than the $759 million posted in the year-earlier period.

Electronics imports, which accounted for one-third of purchases in January, rose 2.2 percent on year to $1.34 billion and were 8.6 percent higher from a month earlier.

Imports from the US, the country's main import source in January, declined 1.4 percent on year to $570 million. Imports from Singapore, largely oil products, rose 61 percent on year to $540 million, while imports from Japan reached $491.8 million, up 38.5 percent from a year earlier.

The Philippines projects exports to expand between 7 percent and 9 percent this year and imports to increase between 13 percent and 15 percent.

"Imports bounced up strongly driven by the turn in domestic demand, reflected in rising imports of capital and consumer goods," said Prakriti Sofat, regional economist with Barclays Capital.

"Going ahead we believe that imports will continue to rise and exports should remain underpinned as well given improved external demand, with key support coming from the turnaround in the global electronics cycle," she added.

The country started to register expansion in monthly imports only in November, following 12 months of contraction amid the global economic downturn kicked off by the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers in September 2008.

Exports have been on an upward trend since November, reflecting a recovery in the global electronics market. Electronic products are the Philippines' largest export item, and imported electronic products are primarily reprocessed by semiconductor and other electronics exporters.

Jose Vistan, research director at AB Capital Securities, said the sharp increase in January imports could be attributed in part to the low base in the previous year. Imports in January last year contracted around 35 percent from a year earlier.

"This is a combination of a low base, coupled with recovery in exports, which is very dependent on imports," Vistan said. (Dow Jones)



Investment pledges double to P29.95b
March 22, 2010
MANILA STANDARD TODAY

The Board of Investments and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority registered combined investment commitments of P29.95 billion in the first two months of the year, up 107 percent from P14.45 billion year-on-year.

Trade Undersecretary and investments board managing head Elmer Hernandez told reporters over the weekend that the BoI approved commitments of P9.92 billion in January and February, up 233 percent from P2.97 billion on year. Peza registered P20.04 billion worth of investment pledges, up 75 percent from P11.47 billion on year.

Hernandez said combined BoI and Peza pledges from foreign investments surged 671 percent to P14.58 billion from P1.89 billion on year. Local investors committed P15.38 billion in the two-month period, up 22 percent from P12.56 billion.

The two agencies registered 99 new projects from 96 last year, with employment prospects rising 29 percent to 20,837 from 16,156.

The manufacturing sector received investments of P14.70 billion from just P1.29 billion on year.

Investment pledges in real estate, including mass housing and industrial estate fell 15 percent to P9.05 billion from P10.62 billion on year.

Power projects jumped to P5.31 billion from P140 million last year.

Japanese companies led the bulk of registered investments in the first two months with P7.12 billion, followed by Singapore at P4.83 billion and the United States at P1.18 billion.

The biggest investments were led by the manufacture of flip-chip LAN grid array, green film auto voltaic panel, and power generation and wind projects.

The biggest power generation project is located in Nabas, Aklan worth P2.55 billion while the largest wind project is in Sual, Pangasinan worth P2.54 billion. Both projects were registered by Petro Energy Resources Corp.



OFW inflows hit record $17.35 billion in 2009
February 16, 2010
THE PHILIPPINE STAR

MANILA, Philippines - Money sent home by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) hit a new monthly record high of $1.567 billion in December, enabling the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to register a stronger-than-expected growth in remittances for the whole of 2009.

Data released by the BSP yesterday showed that OFW remittances surged by 11.4 percent in December, or $160 million more than the $1.407 billion registered in December of 2008. The amount eclipsed the previous monthly record high of $1.531 billion registered in October 2009.

For the whole of 2009, BSP officer-in-charge Diwa Guinigundo said remittances went up by 5.4 percent to a new record high of $17.348 billion from $16.426 billion in 2008 and exceeded the revised four percent growth forecast set by the BSP for 2009.

“The 2009 level exceeded the BSP’s forecast of $17.1 billion remittance flows or a four percent growth for the year,” Guinigundo stressed.

Major sources of remittances included the US, Canada, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Japan, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Italy, and Germany.

Guinigundo pointed out that the remittance level accounted for about 10.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) that expanded by 0.9 percent last year from 3.8 percent in 2008.

“Remittances remained resilient amid the recent global financial crisis, providing strong support to domestic demand,” he added.

The BSP official attributed the steady growth of OFW remittances to the sustained demand for skilled Filipino workers overseas particularly engineers, medical practitioners, and teachers.

According to him, the stronger-than-expected growth could also be traced to the decision of the Philippine government to conduct bilateral talks with host countries that continue to open up new employment opportunities abroad for Filipinos and to facilitate the hiring of displaced workers who were affected by the global economic difficulties.

Guinigundo said also noted the continued expansion of remittance transfer facilities that has helped capture a large share of the global remittance market.

“The steady remittance flows from overseas Filipinos were underpinned by the continued expansion of bank and non-bank service providers’ international and domestic market coverage to capture a larger share of the global remittance market as well as the introduction of innovative products and services that cater to remitters’ specific needs,” he added.

Commercial banks’ established tie-ups, remittance centers, correspondent banks, and branches or representative offices abroad increased to 4,192 as of 2009 from 3,015 as of 2008.

Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed that the government processed about 41.6 percent or 221,548 of the total job orders that reached 532,214 last year. These jobs comprised mainly of service, production as well as professional, technical, and related job categories in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, and Hong Kong.

POEA reported that Middle East countries particularly Saudi Arabia continue to absorb a significant number of deployed OFWs including those that have been displaced elsewhere.

“The geographical diversification of OFWs has also contributed to the resilience of remittance flows,” Guinigundo said.

The BSP was originally looking at a zero growth last year but later revised the outlook to a growth of four percent due to the steady deployment of Filipino workers abroad and the increase access to formal remittance channels.

OFW remittances are expected to grow faster at six percent next year especially with the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the BSP and member banks of the Association of Bank Remittance Officers Inc. (ABROI).

The agreement calls for the use of the central bank’s Philippine Payments and Settlements Systems (PhilPaSS) to send the remitted money to the beneficiaries’ accounts in other banks.

OFW families are expected to save at least P92 million to as high as P922 million due to the faster and cheaper delivery of remittances to the beneficiaries at a lower rate of P50 per transaction instead of the current range of between P100 and P550 per transaction.

This year, the BSP sees OFW remittances growing at a faster rate of six percent.



FDI inflows post double-digit growth in January-October
January 13, 2010
THE PHILIPPINE STAR

MANILA, Philippines - Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows posted a double digit growth in the first 10 months of last year due to stronger equity capital inflows and higher reinvested earnings, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. reported yesterday.

Tetangco said FDI inflows jumped by 17.9 percent to $1.328 billion during the first 10 months of last year from a year-ago level of $1.126 billion as both equity capital and reinvested earnings recorded net inflows.

He pointed out that equity capital net inflows soared by 28.3 percent to $1.36 billion in the first 10 months of last year from $1.06 billion in the same period in 2008.

Data showed that equity capital placements jumped by 22.4 percent to $1.503 billion from $1.228 billion while withdrawals fell by 14.9 percent to $143 million from $168 million.

Tetangco said the bulk of the investments came from the US, Japan, Hong Kong, and the Netherlands.

He added that investments were made in the manufacturing, real estate, construction, services, financial intermediation, mining, trade or commerce as well as transportation, storage, and communications sectors.

The BSP chief also reported that reinvested earnings amounted to $125 million from January to October last year, a complete turnaround from the $131-million net outflow registered in the same period in 2008.

“Investors were encouraged to retain part of their earnings in local enterprises or corporations given the Philippine economy’s resilience amidst challenging global economic conditions,” Tetangco said.

Data also showed that other capital account including intercompany borrowing or lending between foreign direct investors and their subsidiaries or affiliates in the Philippines reversed to a net outflow of $157 million from a net inflow of $197 million.



Exports rose in November after 13 months of decline
January 12, 2010
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

MANILA, Philippines--PHILIPPINE EXPORTS GREW FOR THE first time after 13 months of continuous contraction, increasing by 5.1 percent year-on-year to $3.69 billion in November.

With major markets of Philippine goods hobbling in the global slump, the value of shipments have been shrinking since October 2008, diving as deep as 40.6 percent in January 2009.

The National Statistics Office yesterday reported that total exports surged mainly due to a rebound in electronics shipments, the country’s biggest dollar earner.

This put total exports in the first 11 months of 2009 at $35 billion, dipping by 24.6 percent from the $46.2 billion in the same period in 2008.

In November, electronics—which accounted for 58.2 percent of total outbound cargoes—rose 6.9 percent year-on-year to $2.15 billion due to the continuing decrease in shipments of components and devices.

But compared to receipts in October, electronics slid by 0.7 percent from $2.16 billion, although this was better than the previous’ month’s 3.9-percent decline.

The Semiconductor and Electronics Industries of the Philippines Inc.(Seipi) expects exports to improve more steadily in the coming months after a hiccup in October due to devastating typhoons.

Seipi president Ernesto B. Santiago said fourth-quarter export earnings were expected to be better than the $6.22 billion posted in the third quarter.

Santiago said quarterly export bills have been improving sequentially from $4.32 billion in the first quarter and $5.41 billion in the second quarter in 2009.

Even then, the industry group expects full-year outbound shipments to dip by 20 percent although this has been revised from a higher figure set early last year.

NSO documents showed that receipts from the country’s second top export—articles of apparel and clothing accessories—decreased by one percent year-on-year to $131.8 million.

Automotive wiring sets were third, dropping by 10 percent to $96.96 million.

The fourth top exports were woodcraft and furniture, which fell 11.8 percent to $87.54 million.

Manufactured goods represented 88.3 percent of export receipts and went up in aggregate value by 6.8 percent to $3.05 billion in November.

Agro-based products earned $145.43 million or a decrease of 22.7 percent. Receipts from mineral products reached $143.01 million, rising by 11.4 percent.

In November, the three biggest markets for Philippine goods showed increasing orders for shipments.

Cargoes sent to the United States made up the biggest batch at 17.7 percent of total outbound traffic and the value increased by 7.5 percent to $654.17 million.

Exports to Japan followed at 16.2 percent of the total, going up by 2.7 percent to $597.57 million.

Shipments to The Netherlands were third with 10.3 percent of the total, rising by 56 percent to $378.43 million.



More vibrant markets seen: PSEi seen challenging 3,800 record posted in ’07
January 11, 2010
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

THE STOCK MARKET INDEX IS EXpected to be more vibrant this year, with the PSEi, buoyed by the low interest rate environment, seen challenging the 3,800 record posted in 2007.

According to First Metro Investment Corp., the local bourse will grow further consistent with the anticipated recovery of the global and domestic economies from the recent turmoil.

“Stronger-than-expected recovery and low interest rates will stretch the rally of the equities market this year. We see the PSEi challenging the 3,800 seen in 2007,” Eduardo Banaag Jr., vice president of FMIC, said in a press conference yesterday.

Despite a tough economic climate, the Philippine Stock Exchange saw improvements in share prices last year as the domestic economy managed to avoid a recession.

The PSEi last year stood at 3,052.68, up 63 percent from 1,872.85 in 2008.

FMIC officials said the low interest rate regime would prompt investors, who exercised some caution last year amid the global turmoil, to invest more in the equities market this year.

Low interest yields on fixed-income instruments, including government securities, encourage investors to place funds in equities.

Given this, FMIC president Francisco Sebastian said listed companies could easily attain a 15-percent earnings per share.

“Although the share prices have already recovered from pre-Lehman levels, we still see these increasing further,” Sebastian said in the same press conference.

Sectors that are expected to lead growth this year are power and other utilities, broadcast and mining, FMIC officials said. They said the financial sector would likely remain stable.

These projections are in line with the forecast made earlier by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said liquidity in the economy would be manifested strongly this year through higher investments in the equities market. Investments in bonds will still be substantial, but not enough to surpass the projected investments in stocks.

Analysts said the rising risk appetite of the market would benefit the stock market.

Sebastian, however, said there were risks to the projected surge in stock prices this year—such as faster inflation, which may prompt the central bank to raise interest rates, and a less-than-ideal election situation.

He said the rosy stock market forecast was hinged on the assumption that the elections would be peaceful and credible.



Driven by electronics: This year, RP may expect up to 15% rise in exports
January 11, 2010
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

AFTER A SHARP SLUMP LAST year, the country’s exports are expected to pick up in 2010, registering growth of between 12 and 15 percent, fueled by the anticipated recovery of the global economy that may translate to higher demand for electronics and other goods.

The projection was made by First Metro Investments Corp. and University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P), in their monthly publication Market Call.

Victor Abola, professor at UA&P, said in a press conference yesterday that the global recovery from a crippling crisis, described to be the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s, would mean higher demand for goods coming from the Philippines and other emerging economies.

Demand for electronics, such as computers and cellular phones will pick up, thereby boosting the country’s exports earnings. Electronics exports are the country’s major dollar earner, accounting for about 60 percent of total export revenues.

Latest data from the National Statistics Office showed that Philippine exports reached $31.3 billion in January to October last year, down 27 percent from $42.89 billion in the same period the previous year.

Analysts said the drop in exports was mainly due to sluggish demand for electronics. During a crisis, consumers tend to focus expenditure on food and other basic goods, spending less on non-essential items.

Decline in exports came when the United States and other industrialized nations—major export markets of the Philippines and other developing nations—fell into a recession.

Weak exports were blamed for the slowdown of the Philippines’ own economy. The domestic economy is projected to have grown by only 0.8 percent last year from 3.9 percent the previous year and 7.2 percent in 2007.

“Recovery was earlier than expected because of combined monetary and fiscal policies,” Abola said, referring to most governments’ efforts to pump-prime their respective economies.



GIR hit all time high of $45.03B in 2009
January 8, 2010
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

THE country's Gross International Reserves (GIR) surged to an all time high of $45.03 billion in 2009, partly lifted by sustained growth in remittances and income from investments offshore.

At the end of 2008, GIR stood at $37.55 billion.

The BSP said in a report released Thursday that the 2009 GIR was enough to cover 9.1 months worth of imports and 4.2 times its external debt maturing within a year.

“There has been a substantial accumulation of reserves. GIR rose to a record high,” said BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. in a speech during Thursday’s meeting of the Rotary Club of Manila.

He also said the country performed relatively better than most of its neighbors, as shown by the record GIR.

Gross international reserves is an indicator of a country’s ability to engage in commercial transactions—such as import and pay debts in foreign currencies—with the rest of the world. It is the total amount of foreign currencies managed by the BSP.

Foreign exchange inflows in the form of remittances, export income, revenue from investments in foreign instruments, as well as borrowings denominated in currencies other than the peso, help boost the GIR.

Remittances for 2009 were estimated to have reached over $17 billion, up by at least 4 percent from $16.4 billion the previous year.

Remittances continued to grow last year despite the global economic crisis.

The BSP said the GIR also saw a rise in income from its foreign exchange operations and foreign investments.

Borrowings made by the government and state-owned Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. were also credited for the rise in GIR.

“Also contributing to the higher year-end GIR level were allocations of Special Drawing Rights (SDR), which were made available by the International Monetary Fund to its member countries,” the central bank said in the statement.

SDR, whose value is based on the values of selected currencies, is the currency used by the IMF.

The IMF gave its member-countries SDR allocations last year to help them cope with the ill effects of the global economic turmoil. The Philippines got $1 billion from the IMF.

Tetangco said the latest GIR indicated that the country’s external liquidity position was healthy. He said the Philippines need not borrow as much—as some countries had—just to boost its GIR.



Peso-US Dollar rate closes at P45.83 to $1
January 8, 2010
MANILA BULLETIN

The peso exchange rate closed higher at P45.83 to the US dollar yesterday at the Philippine Dealing & exchange Corp. (PDEx) from P46.01 the previous day. He weighted average rate appreciated to P45.867 from P45.993. Total volume amounted to $ 798.15 million.



Index continues to rise as investors gobble up stocks
January 8, 2010
THE PHILIPPINE STAR

MANILA, Philippines - The stock market held on to its gains for a third day as the index went up by 37.85 points to 3,077.78 yesterday.

Prime mover was Metro Pacific Investments Corp. which was actively traded throughout the day and rose 9.43 percent to P2.90 per share.

In its online report, AB Capital Securities said the stock market gained momentum as investors began picking up stocks this early. "Even small cap stocks were seen to be moving significantly as investors’ interest grew," AB Capital said.

Strong and positive activity was evident as all sub-indexes advanced yesterday. Even gainers outnumbered losers, 88 against 35.

Volume turned out better with a total of 3.35 billion valued at P2.52 billion.

Small caps such as MRC Allied Industries Inc. shone as the company affirmed the entry of Lucio K. Tan Jr. into the firm. Another is Liberty Telecoms Holdings Inc. which surprisingly jumped by 24.14 percent to a price of P3.60. Yesterday’s share price movement is a sharp rise from its five months sideways trend.

"Locally, a lot of activities are seen both in the economy and the market. Election developments are making waves while news of a tender offer for San Miguel Corp. shares generated activity in the firm," AB Capital said.

Top Frontier will have a tender offer for SMC shares by March this year at a price of P75 as it acquires a significant ownership in SMC. Meanwhile, SMC will likewise invest in Top Frontier through equity infusion, resulting in a 49-percent ownership in the company.

SMC was the top gainer, with an advance of 7.46 percent to P72 for both A and B shares.



Filipino businesses now more optimistic--report
January 8, 2010
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

WITH the world economy now starting to recover, local businesses have become even more optimistic about future prospects, with privately held businesses (PHBs) giving an overall optimism rating of 68 percent—up from last year’s 65 percent.

According to Grant Thornton’s International Business Report, released through local member-firm Punongbayan & Araullo, Philippine businesses were among the most optimistic in the world, placing sixth in the global optimism rankings.

“It’s a small uptick, true, but we’re confident that this signals the start of a more upbeat business community,” P&A managing partner and chief executive Marivic Españo said in a statement.

Overall, the IBR global optimism/pessimism index for 2010 showed an optimism balance of 24 percent—a huge improvement from the -16 percent registered in the same period last year.

Optimism balance refers to the percentage balance of respondents who are optimistic less those who are pessimistic.

For this year’s index, Chilean businesses expressed the most optimism, with a rating of 85 percent, followed by India with 84 percent, and Australia with 79 percent.

On the flipside, Japan showed the most pessimism, with an optimism rating of -72 percent.

Also remaining pessimistic about the global economy were Spain with -56 percent, Ireland with -42 percent, and Greece with 23 percent.

Asked when they believed the global economy would register an upturn, 37 percent of local business leaders said this would happen within the second half, while 17 percent said the recovery had already started.

Twenty-one percent, however, said they did not expect an economic rebound until next year.

“Business leaders are cautious about their optimism, but they are seeing the signs that we’re pulling out of the financial crisis. Consumer spending is rebounding, thanks partly to strong remittances. The mining sector expects to bounce back this year, and even the semiconductor industry, which was hard hit by the US recession, seems poised to post double-digit growths this year,” Españo said.

“We may not be completely out of the woods yet, but the atmosphere is hopeful, and we need that attitude in order to realize a complete recovery.”



WB sees 1.4% RP growth in 2009, 3.1% next year
November 4, 2009
MANILA BULLETIN

The World Bank (WB) is expecting a 1.4 percent growth of the Philippine economy this year and 3.1 percent in 2010 despite the impact of the recent typhoons.

In its Philippine quarterly update, WB noted that the country has avoided a recession this year due to the renewed consumer spending and the timely monetary and fiscal stimuli by the government.

WB country director Bert Hofman said: “Remittances are staying strong. Government consumption and public construction will continue to benefit from the national government's spending in the remaining months of 2009. We believe the government growth forecast for 2009 to be entirely feasible."

Eric Le Borgne, WB senior economist in the Philippines, said that the export and the corporate sectors are showing signs of recovery. Exports to developed countries like the United States and Germany have improved since August.

"While SMEs, especially those which are export-oriented, are still reeling from the crisis, the corporate sector focusing on the domestic market is showing improved profitability. With financial markets also on the rebound, banks are able to turn around losses experienced in the last quarter of 2008," said Le Borgne.

The property sector remained strong owing to the continuing demand for condominiums and houses from expatriate Filipinos as well as office spaces from the bourgeoning business process outsourcing industry.



World Bank sees brighter outlook for RP. Growth inevitable, but poverty remains a problem
November 5, 2009
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

MANILA, Philippines - Acknowledging that the Philippines proved to be more resilient in the face of a global financial crisis than earlier anticipated, the World Bank retracted its forecast of a 0.5-percent contraction for the economy this year and set its new projection to a growth of 1.4 percent.

The World Bank likewise revised its outlook on the Philippines for 2010, from a growth of only 2.4 percent to 3.1 percent.

Eric Le Borgne, senior economist for World Bank Manila office, said remittances and the government’s stimulus programs spelled the difference between its old and new assumptions.

It was earlier believed that remittances to developing countries like the Philippines would sharply decline this year because of layoffs in recession-stricken countries in the West.

However, Le Borgne said, remittances to the Philippines remained strong because of the deployment of new workers to alternative labor markets, including the Middle East. Newly deployed Filipinos outnumbered those who lost their jobs.

Earlier, the World Bank said remittances sent to the Philippines would fall by 4 percent from the $16.4 billion recorded last year. Now, it sees a 4-percent increase in the money sent by Filipinos based abroad.

The revised economic growth forecast of the World Bank came after the announcement that Philippines grew by 1.5 percent in the first half.

According to the Arroyo administration, this figure kept the economy on the growth track, expecting it to rise between 0.8 and 1.8 percent for the full year.

“The Philippines avoided a recession, thanks to timely fiscal and monetary stimuli combined with larger than projected inflow of remittances,” the developmental lender said in its latest Philippine Quarterly Report released yesterday.



World Bank hikes RP growth forecast to 1.4%
November 5, 2009
philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines - The World Bank has upgraded its growth forecast for the Philippines this year, reversing an earlier estimate of a 0.3-percent contraction to an expansion of 1.4 percent, as it noted that an expected global economic recovery would further lift the inflow of remittances, boost exports and encourage consumer spending.

In its latest East Asia and Pacific update, the World Bank said the anticipated growth falls within the range of the Philippine government’s official forecast of a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of between 0.8 percent to 1.8 percent in 2009.

“Remittances are staying strong. Government consumption and public construction will continue to benefit from the National Government’s spending in the remaining months of 2009. So, based on new data, we believe the government growth forecast for 2009 to be entirely feasible,” World Bank country director Bert Hofman said yesterday.

Money sent home by overseas Filipino workers are expected to rise by four percent to a record $17.1 billion this year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said.

The World Bank initially projected GDP growth in the Philippines this year at 1.9 percent, scaling it down to –0.3 percent as the economy was teetering into a recession. But a stronger than expected output in the second quarter – boosted by government spending on infrastructure and social services – sparked renewed growth expectations.



Economic prospects in 2010 turn rosier
November 2, 2009
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

Higher remittances, export rebound seen

MANILA, Philippines - Economic prospects seem rosier for the Philippines next year after a not-so-bad 2009, with resilient remittances and post-typhoon rebuilding efforts likely sustaining the momentum, according to New York-based think tank Global Source.

In an Oct. 27 country report titled “The Sun Also Rises,” the report also said the two leading candidates in the 2010 presidential elections based on the latest popularity surveys were acceptable to the business sector and could be expected to manage the economy competently.

The two are Senators Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III of the Liberal Party and Manuel Villar of the Nacionalista Party.

The report, written by Filipino economists Romeo Bernardo and Margarita Gonzales, said the Philippines could still expect a growth in gross domestic product (GDP) of 1-1.5 percent this year on surprisingly robust remittances from overseas Filipinos. A faster GDP growth of 4 percent was projected for next year.

“Prospects look particularly promising for 2010 when the country will be led by a new president brought peacefully to power while the world economy gains strength. Such would usher in continued remittances, export recovery, and a honeymoon period with a new leader that could only improve the environment for investments,” the report said.

Global Source said the growth drivers could strengthen next year as overseas workers gain greater confidence with improvement in income prospects and especially with export recovery, additional activity from elections, and a potential honeymoon period of important economic sectors with a new president going through a smooth transfer of power.

“But tepid world recovery would still serve to limit the country’s growth even as the Asian region is slated to be the strongest rebounder after the global crisis,” it said.

The Philippine government continues to target a GDP performance at 0.8-1.8 percent and 2.6-3.6 percent this year and next, respectively.

“With calamity effects likely to be temporary and intentionally subdued, we expect headline inflation to average at around 3.2 percent this year and about 4.1 percent in 2010, though keeping in mind other supply-side risks particularly with oil prices on a rise as the global economy recovers,” the report said.

It noted that monetary authorities themselves were expecting inflation at 3 percent this year and about 3.4 percent in 2010.

Global Source said the inflation-targeting Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas would likely begin raising policy rates as a “preemptive” measure only in the latter part of 2010 when the economy picks up speed and the output gap starts to narrow.

Key interest rates have been kept on hold since August after a monetary easing cycle that slashed key rates by a total of 200 basis points since December last year.

“The Philippine scenario does not look as bleak as one would expect after a great flood,” the report said.

“A robust current account was able to mask increased fiscal worries by allowing a healthy amount of foreign currency borrowing to occur in what appears to be another case of overseas Filipinos saving the day. This in a nutshell keeps financial markets in still quite good shape,” the report said.

On the race toward the 2010 elections, Global Source is expecting a closer match by May as other candidates begin to gain national exposure.



Remittances continue to drive RP growth
November 1, 2009
MANILA BULLETIN

Remittances from Overseas Filipino Workers will continue to drive Philippine economic growth over the next 7 years at least, Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) President and CEO Reynaldo G. David told the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (ADFIAP) CEO Forum the other day at the Dusit Thani Hotel.

“In the future, migrant workers will be concentrated in the Middle East, Asia and countries whose immigration laws are very stringent. Sea-based workers will continue to grow,” he projected. However, “Remittances will not be the Philippines saving strength forever. As a major development financial institution, DBP is in a constant quest for long-term solutions so our migrant workers can come home where they belong.”

To date, cash transfers from 9 million Filipinos abroad account for 10 percent of the country’s economic output. Although many OFWs lost their jobs, remittances over the past 8 months totaled $11.3 billion, up 3.6% year-on-year, mostly from Filipinos in the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Malaysia, United Kingdom and Italy.

Already, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) revised its 2009 forecast, saying remittances will grow 4 percent, on the average, to $17.1 billion from last year’s $16.4 billion, indicating that the global turmoil had an insignificant bearing on the amount of money OFWs send in.

“Remittances may even grow faster in the next two months of the year as our mostly Christians workers send in more money for the Christmas season,” according to David. With the global economy on its way to recovery, remittances may even surge in the months ahead and DBP sees a more favorable outlook for remittances through end-2009.

While the last two typhoons took its toll on economic growth, strong overseas remittances continue to buoy up the economy. In fact, “We believe these natural disasters triggered incremental remittances. We are just awaiting the official remittance figures for September and October,” the DBP President noted.



Higher RP growth seen despite ‘Ondoy’
October 6, 2009
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine economy can expect a growth rate higher than previous expectations despite the damage from tropical storm “Ondoy,” which may in fact drive expansion of domestic output, according to an investment research unit of UBS.

UBS Securities Pte Ltd., which is part of the Swiss bank group, said recovery efforts would mean a boost to economic activity mainly through government spending.

Also, UBS Securities said in its latest report on the Philippines that the country could afford to incur a budget deficit at more than half the P250-billion government target for the year.

The study, penned by economist Edward Teather, said that while business confidence and regional data suggest there is more to come for the Philippines in terms of the recovery, the human calamity caused by Ondoy could disturb the growth path of the economy.

“However, while disrupted economic activity along with damage to corporate and household balance sheets are both human and economic negatives, the rebuilding effort—probably led by the public sector—could provide a temporary lift for economic growth in coming quarters,” Teather said.

“We retain our forecast for 4.6 percent growth in 2010, but edge up our 2009 real gross domestic product forecast to 1.3 percent (from 0.8 percent)—less than we would have done in the absence of Ondoy,” he added.

Teather said that in the wake of the storm, precautionary buying of basic goods and services could cause a lift to inflation despite government price controls.

He said that even then, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas should see this as temporary and thus play down risks to long-term inflation expectations and keep monetary policy settings easy for now.

Further, Teather argued that while any extra public expense would come on top of an already sharp deterioration in government finances, the Philippines can sustainably run a wider budget deficit in the range of 4 percent to 5 percent of GDP without pushing the debt-to-GDP ratio higher in 2010 and beyond.

Finance Secretary Margarito B. Teves last week expressed commitment to keeping the deficit at P250 billion or 3.2 percent of the total output of goods and services within the country this year, partly due to concerns that the country’s debts already represent some 56 percent of GDP.



Metrobank, UA&P see higher remittances, 2.2% GDP growth
October 6, 2009
THE PHILIPPINE STAR

MANILA, Philippines - The Metrobank Group and the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) are expecting a 3.5-percent increase in remittances this year despite the global economic slowdown.

In a report titled “The Market Call Capital Markets Research,” Metrobank’s First Metro Investment Corp.(FMIC) and UA&P said that strong remittances would help the Philippines register a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 2.2 percent this year.

The study said that remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFW) would likely increase by 3.5 percent, or about $574 million, to almost $17 billion this year from a record $16.4 billion last year.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has revised upwards its projected growth in remittances to at least three percent from zero percent after inching up by 3.8 percent to $10 billion from January to July.

Data from the central bank showed that money sent home by Filipinos abroad posted its highest year-on-year growth of 9.3 percent in July to $1.5 billion on the back of sustained demand for Filipino manpower worldwide.

“Given the resiliency of OFW dollar remittances in the first seven months, highlighted by an impressive 9.3 percent jump in July, we are revising upward our forecast for the whole year to a positive 3.5 percent growth,” the report said.

“Although there had been lay-offs, demand for Filipino migrant workers continues to be sustained. Moreover, hiring agreements are presently taking effect. As such, the lay-offs were being offset by new jobs being taken up by our OFWs,” the study added.

Due to robust remittances that would continue to boost consumption, FMIC and UA&P see the country’s GDP expanding by at least two percent in the third quarter and 4.2 percent in the fourth quarter.

This would bring the full-year GDP growth to 2.2 percent or slightly lower than the earlier projection of 2.4 percent. The revised forecast was higher than the government’s GDP growth projection of between 0.8 percent and 1.8 percent this year.

The country’s GDP grew by one percent in the first half of the year from four percent after the country’s domestic output expanded by 1.5 percent in the second quarter and by 0.6 percent in the first quarter.

“Our outlook has mellowed only mildly. GDP growth in the third quarter is likely to barely exceed two percent. But we expect a more robust export demand and early election spending to boost GDP by 4.2 percent in the fourth quarter, and lead to a full-year average of 2.2 percent,” the study said.

FMIC and UA&P see inflation increasing to 0.7 percent in September, 1.5 percent in October, 2.4 percent in November, and 3.8 percent in December due to rising crude oil prices.



Resurgent peso closes at 46.70
October 6, 2009
THE PHILIPPINE STAR

MANILA, Philippines - The peso again entered the 46-to-the-dollar territory yesterday, following through with its appreciation past the 47 level last Friday to close at 46.70 against the greenback, propped up by continued dollar inflows from overseas Filipinos and the general weakening of the dollar against Asian currencies.

Traders said overseas Filipinos have been sending more dollars to help relatives who have been severely affected by tropical storm Ondoy.

The peso opened at 47 against the dollar, with total volume hitting P977.3 million during yesterday’s trading.

The strengthening of the peso also comes after British bank Standard Chartered upgraded its economic growth outlook for the Philippines to 1.5 percent from the previous 0.7 percent.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. has said that dollar remittances from overseas Filipinos may grow more than three percent this year following the hefty dollar inflows that poured into the country in July.

The latest estimate is higher than the previous projection of a two to three percent growth for 2009 and the original forecast of a zero percent growth. In 2008, remittances hit $16.4 billion.

Remittances from overseas Filipinos rose to $1.5 billion in July from $1.4 billion in the same month last year, posting the highest year-on-year growth for 2009 at 9.3 percent, latest data from the BSP showed.

The July figures brought remittances in the first seven months of the year to $10 billion, up 3.8 percent from the year-ago level, data from the central bank also.



UBS revises RP growth forecast to 1.3% in 2009
October 6, 2009
THE PHILIPPINE STAR

MANILA, Philippines - The Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) has revised upward its 2009 economic growth forecast for the Philippines on the back of higher dollar remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and a widening fiscal deficit which is expected to fuel economic activities in the remaining part of 2009.

The UBS has revised its gross domestic product (GDP) growth projection to 1.3 percent from 0.8 percent previously. The revised projection is within the government’s economic growth projection for 2009 of 0.8 percent to 1.8 percent. For 2010, the UBS retained its economic growth forecast of 4.6 percent.

In the second quarter of the year, the economy grew by 1.5 percent year-on-year, compared to the 0.4-percent growth registered in the first quarter.

Remittances from OFWs remained robust, climbing by 9.3 percent to $1.5 billion in July from $1.4 billion in the same period last year.

UBS said that while typhoon Ondoy has disrupted economic growth, the rebuilding efforts initiated by the government and the private sector would translate to economic activities in the remaining quarter of the year.

“While economic activity may be temporarily impacted by the tragic floods seen on the weekend of Sept. 26, the rebuilding effort will likely help the trend recovery in activity to continue in coming quarters. We retain our forecast for 4.6 percent growth in 2010, but edge up our 2009 real GDP forecast to 1.3 percent — less than we would have done in the absence of the typhoon Ondoy,” UBS said.

The Switzerland-based bank said that because of the need to pump-prime the economy after typhoon Ondoy, the government would likely incur a budget deficit of P300 billion this year or 3.9 percent of GDP. This is higher than the government’s revised deficit ceiling of P250 billion or 3.2 percent of GDP.

“So long as the National Government’s deficit spending does not drive up real interest rates too much relative to real GDP growth by competing with the private sector for the pool of savings, a modest primary deficit should be consistent with stable debt to GDP. And that in turn would be consistent with an overall deficit of four to five percent of GDP,” UBS said.



Peso seen breaking into 46:$1 territory
October 4, 2009
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

THE PESO IS EXPECTED TO HOVER IN THE 46-to-a-dollar territory this week, following through with its intra-day appreciation past the 47 level last Friday.

Analysts said the fact that the peso touched 46.99 to a dollar last Friday indicated that the local currency could hit a stronger level this week, citing the effects of the weakening of the greenback against Asian currencies.

After hitting an intra-day high of 46.99, the peso closed at 47.10 on Friday. Volume of trade amounted to $695.5 million.

Although Friday’s finish was still weaker than the previous day’s close 47.05, traders said the peso could again break into the 46 territory this week as some investors shy away from the greenback to place more money in perceivably riskier but higher-yielding investments.

Jonathan Ravelas, market strategist for Banco De Oro, said the peso could touch 46.80 to a dollar this week.

“The peso is simply benefiting from a weakening dollar. Because people believe that the global economy is slowly recovering from the crisis, they gain more appetite to invest in things like commodities and other instruments and move away from the dollar,” Ravelas said.

Meanwhile, other market analysts said some investors chose to move away from the dollar as the US economy recovers from the turmoil at a slow pace.

The US economy shrank 0.7 percent in the second quarter, although an improvement from the 6.4-percent contraction in the first quarter.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said the peso might gain some strength in the coming months because of the resurgence of risk appetite of foreign investors and growing attractiveness of emerging economies like the Philippines.

BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said that once the global economy shows firmer signs of recovery from the turmoil, the Philippines and other emerging markets would benefit from higher inflows of foreign direct investments and foreign portfolio investments.

Given the resiliency shown by emerging economies amid the global crisis, he said more investors would be keen on investing in these markets.

A consequence of rising inflows of foreign investments would be the appreciation of the peso, Guinigundo said.

The BSP has adopted the policy of keeping a market-determined exchange rate. It intervenes in the foreign exchange market only in times of sharp and sudden appreciation or depreciation of the local currency, which disrupts budget planning by businesses, monetary officials said.

Standard Chartered bank, in a commentary, said it expected the peso to improve in the coming months as the domestic economy moves from the slowdown caused by the global turmoil.

“We are raising our short-term (forex) rating for the Philippine peso to ‘overweight’ from ‘neutral.’ We expect it to gradually catch up with other Asian currencies,” Standard Chartered said.

An “overweight” outlook reflects expectation that a currency would appreciate, while a “neutral” one indicates projection of minimal or sideways movement.



Bank raises economic growth forecast for RP
October 4, 2009
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

STANDARD CHARTERED BANK raised its economic growth forecast for the Philippines for this year and 2010, saying the domestic economy was benefiting from the unexpected rise in remittances and the stimulus efforts of the government.

For this year, StanChart expects the Philippine economy to grow by 1.5 percent, up from its original forecast of 0.7 percent.

For 2010, the international bank sees the country growing by 3.3 percent, faster than its original projection of 2.7 percent.

These projections are within the government’s growth targets of between 0.8 and 1.8 percent for this year and between 2.6 and 3.6 percent for next year.

“We have raised our forecasts for Philippine GDP (gross domestic product) growth due to stronger than expected overseas Filipino workers’ remittances and the continued plans for strong fiscal pump-priming next year,” StanChart said in a paper on its outlook on the Philippines.

The bank expects remittances to grow by 6 percent this year from $16.4 billion last year.

It said it was expecting remittances to rise partly because the recession in the United States, where many Filipino workers were based, was already easing.

Remittances from Filipinos working offshore were earlier feared to contract this year in view of layoffs in recession-afflicted countries. However, money sent by Filipinos overseas continued to grow due to the rising demand for manpower in alternative labor markets.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas earlier reported that remittances in the first seven months of the year hit $9.97 billion, up 3.8 percent from year-ago level.

BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said the latest data proved that its own forecast of a flat growth for the full year was too conservative. The BSP is revising its projection and will likely announce its new target this month.

To counter the adverse impact of the slowdown in global demand for Philippine exports on the country’s overall economic output, the government allowed a much higher deficit spending this year.

It had set a budget ceiling of P250 billion this year, much higher than the actual deficit of only P68.1 billion last year.

The Department of Finance said the government would revise its budget deficit ceiling for next year and would likely set it at P233 billion.

StanChart said the Philippines’ likely rebound from the economic slowdown would help attract foreign investments. As a consequence, it said, the peso would gain strength against currencies of trading partners.



Forex reserves breach $40B mark
September 1, 2009
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

MANILA, Philippines - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said the country’s foreign currency reserves was estimated to have breached the $40-billion mark last month to a new all-time high.

Despite the ongoing global economic turmoil, the BSP said the Philippines’ gross international reserves (GIR) were expected to grow due largely to the steady increase in remittances.

The central bank said news that the worst of the turmoil was over and that the world was on its way toward a recovery also encouraged investors to move away from the sidelines and invest more. Rising foreign investments were also beefing up the country’s reserves, the central bank said.

Monetary officials said emerging markets like the Philippines, which showed relative resiliency during the crisis, were starting to attract foreign portfolio investments. Investors looking for money-making opportunities are considering developing economies that have weathered the global turmoil.

After delivering a speech during the 52nd anniversary celebration of the Social Security System yesterday, BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. told reporters that the country’s GIR was not expected to have shrunk in August. In fact, he said GIR could have actually grown further.

As of end-July, the GIR stood at a record $39.9 billion, or enough to cover 6.9 months’ worth of imports or better than the internationally accepted threshold level of three to four months.

The GIR, a measure of a country’s level of external liquidity, is the total amount of foreign currencies kept at and managed by the central bank. It determines a country’s ability to pay for imports and services and settle foreign currency-denominated debts.

The improving sentiment among foreign portfolio investors was also helping boost the country’s GIR. Central bank documents showed that in January to July, “hot money” registered a net inflow into the country of $265.09 million, a swing from a net outflow of $576.62 million in the same period last year.

The Philippines was 10th in the Asian Development Bank’s 2008 ranking of developing countries in Asia with the biggest reserves.

The list was led by China with $1.95 trillion. It was followed by Taiwan ($292 billion), India ($247 billion), South Korea ($200 billion), Hong Kong ($182 billion), Singapore ($174 billion), Thailand ($108 billion), Malaysia ($91 billion) and Indonesia ($49 billion).



Consumer loans up 3.3%
September 1, 2009
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

THE BANGKO SENTRAL NG PILIPINAS reported that the outstanding consumer loans extended by banks as of end-June reached P398.6 billion, up 3.3 percent from the end-March level.

If compared with year-ago level, the end-June 2009 figure was 13.1 percent higher.

The amount covered loans extended by universal, commercial and thrift banks.

Consumer loans include those used for the purchase of real estate property, mostly residential and automobiles, as well as credit card receivables.

The BSP said real estate loans amounted to P164.8 billion as of end-June, up 2.8 percent from P160.38 billion as of end-March. The continued rise in real estate loans indicated sustained growth in demand for residential units, monetary officials said.

Credit card receivables of banks stood at P109.9 billion, up 3 percent from P106.8 billion quarter-on-quarter.

Officials said the rise in credit card loans extended by banks helped spur consumption in the second quarter.

Auto loans reached P86 billion as of end-June, up 5.5 percent from P81.6 billion as of the end of the first quarter.

The rise in car loans was consistent with the vehicle manufacturing industry’s projections that demand for new automobiles would rise this year despite the lingering crisis, which was earlier feared to dampen consumer demand.

Other consumer loans reached P37.68 billion, up 1.9 percent from P36.97 billion, the BSP said.

Earlier, BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said consumer spending, aided partly by loans from banks, helped boost the economy in the second quarter.

In the first quarter, personal consumption was anemic, resulting in a mere 0.6 percent gross domestic product growth.

During the first three months of the year, officials explained, many Filipino households, especially those dependent on remittances sent by a family members working overseas, spent less and saved more amid fears of layoffs offshore.

In the second quarter, however, households were more confident to spend in view of reports about the gradual recovery of the global economy from the crisis. Some employers offshore that laid off workers due to the crisis were starting to rehire their workers, officials said.

The BSP said remittances, a closely watched economic indicator, fuels demand for real estate, auto loans and other goods and services.



NEDA sees sustained GDP growth after 2009
September 1, 2009
MANILA BULLETIN

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is confident of a sustained economic growth beyond 2009 after the country’s gross domestic product posted a modest growth of 1.5 percent in the first half.

NEDA acting director general Augusto B. Santos said that the Philippines continues to be economically resilient and remains as one of the few economies enjoying positive GDP growth rates.

Santos noted that the Philippines has avoided a recession when its seasonally adjusted second quarter GDP grew by 2.4 percent from a revised -2.1 quarter-on-quarter GDP growth for the first quarter of 2009.

“Government and private sector hiring programs, flexible working arrangements, and the frontloading of infrastructure projects under the government’s Economic Resiliency Plan (ERP), all helped cushion the economy’s growth and employment from the global recession,” Santos said.

“The country is on track in achieving the high-end of the government annual growth target of 0.8-1.8 percent.”

With the coming election spending and the Filipino penchant to consume during the Christmas season, Santos said a 1.8 annual GDP growth is possible.

National Planning and Policy Staff Director Dennis Arroyo said that it is “possible to breach the high-end of the government target given the signs of an economic turnaround such as the growth in Philippine exports, the rise of the stock market, and the slowdown in inflation.”

Arroyo expects that the growth in the third quarter of 2009 would be better than the second quarter.

Consumer spending in the coming months is also seen to rise due to continued inflow of remittances as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) return to work abroad as well as increases in retail trade beginning in December, earnings in tourism, and spending from the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry workers.

The improvement in the second quarter personal consumption to 2.2 percent growth rate compared to the last quarter “seems to indicate the easing of the fear” in consumers, Arroyo said.

However, the risks such as the speculation in oil due to the “greenshoots” phenomenon and a probable drought towards the end of 2009 might slow down economic growth. To take advantage of the global economic rebound in 2010, the government has designed the REAP (Reloading for Economic Acceleration Plan).



Q2 economic growth seen at 2%
August 25, 2009
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

THE PHILIPPINES DODGED RECESSION IN THE SECOND QUARTER to become one of few Asian economies to withstand the deepest global slump in decades, thanks to strong inflows of remittances and increased state spending, a Reuters poll shows.

Seven out of 12 economists forecast the economy grew by a seasonally adjusted 2 percent in the second quarter, a reversal of the previous quarter’s contraction of 2.3 percent.

On an annual basis, growth likely picked up to 0.6 percent in the second quarter, from 0.4 percent in the first quarter, the poll showed.

Standard Chartered Bank was the most pessimistic, saying the economy contracted by 0.5 percent year-on-year in the second quarter.

At the other end was Banco de Oro Universal Bank, which said growth from April to June should come in at 2.3. percent.

The National Economic and Development Authority said last week the economy likely bottomed out in the first half and should post stronger growth later this year when election-related spending starts and consumers shop ahead of the Christmas holidays.

Analysts said the data is unlikely to alter views that policy rates will remain on hold at a record low for the rest of the year, with the central bank focusing on the economy’s performance in the second half of 2009 to gauge the strength of the recovery.



Stocks post biggest single-day gain on rosy global outlook
August 25, 2009
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

Local stocks yesterday posted their biggest single-day gain this year as global risk appetite surged on expectations that the world was now coming out of the worst downturn seen since the Great Depression.

The main-share Philippine Stock Exchange index rallied 5.11 percent to close at 2,859, led by the property sector whose counter jumped 6.2 percent. All sub-sectors were up as P4.9 billion worth of shares changed hands as 97 advancers edged out 18 decliners and 46 unchanged stocks.

The counter for holding firms was up 5.4 percent so were the financial service as well as mining and oil sub-indices which rose 4 percent, 4.1 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively.

Index heavyweight PLDT accounted for the biggest volume of yesterday’s buying sprees while the following completed the roster of 10 most actively traded stocks; Meralco, Megaworld, Ayala Land, Alliance Global Group, Ayala Corp., Filinvest land, Metrobank, Bank of the Philippine Islands and SM investment Corp.

“Coming off a long weekend and looking toward another long weekend, the local stock market had its best day of the year. Investors came back to positive developments from the US and bought aggressively,” said Prince Anthony Yeung, and analyst at AB Capital Securities.

Eli Remolona, a global Filipino economist currently based in Hong Kong as chief representative of the banks for international settlements (BIS), yesterday said his personal view was that the global economy was on the mend given the various fiscal and monetary stimulus packages put in place by various governments.

“But the global financial system is still quite weak, which means the banks and financial institutions have to repair themselves and that means their contribution to the economy will be very weak and so the [global] economy will have to fix itself with the help of consumption by the people and households and trade,” he said.

Remolona, who had worked for the World Bank and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, was in town to receive the BPInoy award given by the Ayalas’ bank of the Philippine Islands each year to outstanding global Filipino achievers.

The economist said Asia was leading the way in terms of the stimulus package, particularly China and also noted that the Philippines was among the few countries that had so far managed to post a positive economic growth this year.

“It will be a U-shaped [global] recovery but the right said of the U is flatter than the left side of the U. In other words, recovery is there but it’s going to be rather weak until the financial systems can fix themselves” he said.

AB Capital’s Yeung said the optimism in the stock market yesterday was pent up given the shortened trading week last week.

Favorable comments from the chides of the US Federal Reserve and the European Central bank that suggested that the global economy was bottoming out cheered stock markets across the globe. The US Dow Jones Industrial index ended last week at its year-to-date high while both the NASDAQ and S&P 500 ended above crucial resistance levels. But Yeung said there was a growing sense of fear that the markets were hitting “overbought” levels.

There seems to be a lack of catalyst for the markets, both local and foreign, to move convincingly in either direction. The main catalysts for this week would be the 9second quarter GDP (gross domestic product) repots of the US and the Philippines,” Yeung said.



Banks stop tightening credit standards
August 25, 2009
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

LOCAL BANKS HAVE STOPPED tightening their credit standards in the second quarter, encouraged by reports that the worst of the global economic turmoil was over.

This was according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, which regularly monitors changes in the lending requirements imposed by banks on potential borrowers.

“Lending standards have become steady in the second quarter; there was no more tightening,” BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo told reporters.

Reports that the worst of the global economic crisis was over injected confidence among banks to allow easier access of individuals and corporate entities to credit.

Developments related to bank-lending requirements in the second quarter were contrary to those in the previous quarters when banks tightened their credit standards, like asking for higher-value collateral from credit applicants and imposing more stringent documentary requirements.

The stiffer requirements were imposed following the onset of the global economic crunch, which banks feared could adversely affect the capability of borrowers to pay their debts.

The BSP, however, said the tightening of credit standards did not mean a lost of appetite among banks to lend. Bank lending continued to grow at a double-digit level, but the expansion came at a slower pace than that seen last year.

According to central bank documents, outstanding loans extended by commercial banks in the country amounted to P2.2 trillion as of end-June, up 11.1 percent from a year ago.

Growth in bank lending hovered beyond 20 percent last year.

Guinigundo said the move of banks to stop tightening credit standards was a welcome development, but he stressed that banks should contribute more to efforts at boosting the economy by accelerating lending.“It will benefit them [banks] in the end if they will lend more,” Guingundo said.

In its bid to encourage bank lending, the BSP has cut its key policy rates by 200 basis points from December last year to July. The overnight borrowing and lending rates of the BSP now stand at 4 and 6 percent.



Stocks surge 5.11% fuelled by US rally
August 25, 2009
THE PHILIPPINE STAR

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine stocks surged 5.11 percent higher yesterday fuelled by strong gains in the US and European markets as optimism mounted that the global economy is getting back on its feet after the worst recession in decades.

At the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), the 30-company composite index surged 139 points to close at 2,859.18 while the all-shares index jumped 3.79 percent to 1,810.36.

Yesterday’s gain was the biggest single day increase since Jan 5, 2009.

“Foreign investors are turning bullish on the Philippines given expectations that there will be growth in the second quarter and that economic prospects are better in the second half of the year,” said Astro del Castillo, managing director of First Grade Holdings Inc.

Across Asia, the upbeat start to the week came after US stocks rose to fresh 2009 highs on Wall Street Friday in response to bright housing data and Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke’s comments that global recovery prospects ‘’appear good.’’ recent sharp falls sparked by fears of overheating calmed investors’ nerves across the region.

Analysts said investors take their cue from Wall Street where the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 1.67 percent on Friday to finish at 9,505.96, posting a fourth straight daily gain.

Yesterday’s trading at the PSE produced 97 gainers against 18 losers and 46 that were unchanged.

At its current level, analysts said the local index looks poised to make another assault at this year’s high. Buying was broad based as 30 of the 32 index stocks were up with the others unchanged. Turnover amounted to 2.42 billion shares worth P4.25 billion.

“We are playing catch up. We were closed on Friday,” so the Philippine market is only reacting to the run-up on Wall Street on Monday, said Jose Vistan of AB Capital Securities Inc.

“The Dow Jones (index) made a new 2009 high,” on Friday. “That strong run-up pulled Asia up as well,’’ Vistan said.

Meanwhile, oil prices rose in Asian trade bolstered by improved investor sentiment amid widespread hopes for a global economic recovery, analysts said.

“Sentiment remains broadly supportive of commodities including oil in anticipation of an economic recovery,” said David Moore, a Sydney-based commodity strategist with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

New York crude prices scaled new 2009 highs last week, rising above $74 Friday on a weak greenback, an improved US macro-economic outlook and positive eurozone data.



BPI forecasts double-digit growth in remittances
August 25, 2009

MANILA, Philippines - The Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) is optimistic that the remittance business in the Philippines will expand on the higher end of the single-digit growth this year.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said that its conservative forecast is flat growth to an optimistic view of between two to three percent this year. It registered total remittances of $16.4 billion last year.

“In fact, we even see the remittance business for BPI growing by over 10 percent this year,” Raul Marcelo de Leon Dimayuga, president of BPI Direct Savings Bank.

Total remittances in the first semester of 2009 hit $8.5 billion for a 2.9 percent increase for previous levels. In the month of June alone, it grew by 3.3 percent to $1.5 billion.

Traditionally, the second quarter reflects weaker remittances and peaks at the last quarter.

“The continued growth of remittance flows since January this year accompanied by emerging sings of improving global economic conditions have affirmed the positive outlook for steady remittance for 2009,” Amando M. Tetangco Jr., Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), said.

To be able to increase its scope, BPI increased its presence in the Middle East market through correspondent banking, remittance companies and international money transfer firms.

It was timely since remittances from the United States grew albeit in an almost snails pace.

In contrast, deployment of Filipinos steadily increased including Qatar, Chad, Algeria, Malta and Saudi Arabia.

Moreover, the Philippine Overseas Employment Authority (POEA) reported that the employment of additional production workers in Taiwan was facilitated starting August through the special hiring program for Taiwan (SHPT) in cooperation with the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO).

Sea-based deployment remains strong as Filipino seafarers have been retained despite the large number of dry-docked cargo vessels due to the economic crisis.

BPI reportedly controls 60 percent of the remittance business among sea-based Filipinos.

The BSP reports that remittances from sea-based Filipinos grew by 4.5 percent while it expanded by 2.5 percent for land-based Filipinos.



BIS regional representative sees RP growth in second semester
August 25, 2009
THE PHILIPPINE STAR

MANILA, Philippines - An acclaimed economist of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is optimistic that the Philippine economy will make a strong recovery in the second semester of 2009.

Dr. Eli Remolona, BIS chief representative for the Asia and Pacific region explained that the Philippines was never in a prolonged state of economic downturn.

“Hopefully, the economy is in the upside of economic downturn,” Remolona said.

The BIS is composed of central banks worldwide, including the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). It sets international standards for monetary policy as well as banking standards.

Asia is leading the world in recovering from the global credit crisis, which started in the United States. However, the global economy is still believed with the bottomline of the economic disaster although it is generally believed to start its upward march next year.

Remolona is in the Philippines to receive an award extended by the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) to recognize Filipinos gaining extraordinary achievements.

He is considered to be the most prominent Filipino economist in the international monetary and financial policy circles.

The Philippine economy grew last year but recorded an unexpected 0.4 percent growth in the first quarter of 2009. It is widely believed to grow by a little over one percent in the second quarter.

The national government’s forecast growth for the whole of 2009 was placed at 0.8 to 1.8 percent. Government economic planners said that revisions may be made anew depending on the second quarter and first semester performance.

Majority of Philippine growth forecasts range from one to 1.5 percent this year, and from two to three percent in 2010.

Other awardees of the BPInoy program are Anita Magsaysay-Ho in the field of international visual arts, and Cristeta Pasia-Comerford, outstanding achievements I the culinary arts.

Ho is often described as the “Female Amorsolo” and is recognized in both domestic and international circles. Pasia-Comerford is the executive chef of the White House, the only female and the only Asian to hold the post in US history.



Bankers say RP on upside of recovery
August 25, 2009
BUSINESS MIRROR

A HONG Kong-based Filipino banker said the pace of the Philippines’ economic recovery is on track, since it is one of three countries not directly affected by the collapse of the global financial system.

“The Philippine economy never quite got into the ‘V’- or ‘U’-shaped pattern that clutched the countries directly hit by the crisis,” Eli Remolona of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) said on Monday.

Remolona, BIS chief representative, spoke to reporters after receiving an award from Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) as one of three highly exceptional Filipinos overseas.

He explained that the global economy is on a “U”-shaped pattern of recovery after the United States’ housing industry collapsed from unsecured debts and rolled over outside its borders.

Remolona said, however, the recovery on the right side of the “U” is flatter, signaling weakness.

“The Philippines is on the good part of the upside of this ‘U’,” he noted, citing that the country was affected only because of ROP bonds. “But this is also marginal.”

BPI executive Raul Dimayuga agreed, saying he sees the recovery more of the shape of a hockey stick, with recovery slow and may take a longer time.

Dimayuga, BPI overseas banking and channel services group senior vice president, said continuous remittance of overseas Filipino workers would ensure that the Philippines remain on track with its recovery.

The National Economic and Development Authority has stuck to its forecast growth range of 0.8 percent to 1.8 percent in the country’s gross domestic product for this year.

However, low consumer spending remains an uneasy factor shadowing chances of the economy hitting this target.

“But we’re resilient as a people and as a nation. Despite the hardships, we have this ability to take everything in stride,” Remolona said.

He noted, however, that the shifts in leadership positions next year may affect the pace of recovery.

Remolona is one of the 2009 BPInoy awardees, recognized for his outstanding achievements in the field of banking and economics.



BPI sees hefty growth of its remittance service from US and Europe
August 25, 2009
BUSINESS MIRROR

EASILY 10 percent is the growth rate expected by the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) this year, mainly because of money sent by Filipinos in the United States and Europe, an executive told reporters on Monday.

This, despite its weak foothold in the Middle East, which Raul Dimayuga, BPI overseas banking and channel services group senior vice president, said is another growth area the country’s third-largest bank by assets is muscling in on.

“We’re strong in the US and Europe but have not been as strong in the Middle East, where we’re pouring resources in for the past months,” Dimayuga said on the sidelines of a press conference for the 2009 BPInoy Awards.

On its fourth year, the bank recognizes Filipinos overseas deemed exceptional in their profession while working abroad. This year the bank honored White House executive chef Cristeta Pasia-Comerford, Chief Representative for Asia and the Pacific of the Bank for International Settlements Eli Remolona, and artist Anita Magsaysay-Ho.

Dimayuga, however, acknowledged stiff competition will come from banks with remittance services like Al-Rajhi Bank and Saudi American Bank in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Other money-transfer organizations like Western Union and TeleMoney also operate in that country.

According to a World Bank Group web site, Saudi Arabia-Philippines is one of the least costly corridors for remittances, with 26 Saudi rial as the total average fee last year. “We’ve sent a team there to study the market and the possibility of a tie-up,” he added.

Dimayuga said overseas Filipinos remain the driver of the bank’s growth, referring to the 22-percent rate it posted last year. He said roughly $5 billion of money by overseas Filipinos contributed to this growth.

“That’s why we’re very bullish since we’ve not seen a drop in remittances even though it’s been predicted in view of the financial crisis,” Dimayuga said, noting that the crisis pressed Filipinos to send more but “less often” before the crisis. “We noticed that that made us different from migrants of other nationalities. Nagsasakripisyo ang mga Pinoy doon para merong maipadala. [Filipinos further tightened their belts just to send money home.]”

He added that BPI also hasn’t seen a drop in remittances from sea-based workers since “we have seen a drop in trade ships that dried up, and deployment has increased.”

Still, Dimayuga said BPI expects their second-quarter performance to be a “slowdown.” “This is normal even in terms of industry average,” Dimayuga said, adding that BPI expects the banking industry’s remittance business “will continue to grow at least at single-digit levels.” BPI, partly owned by DBS Bank of Singapore, posted a 36.8-percent drop in net income last year to P6.6 billion, from P10 billion in the previous year.

BPI president Aurelio Montinola III was quoted in a BusinessMirror report as saying he expects the bank’s full-year net income is likely to be bigger than last year but less than what it posted in 2007.



Campos family finalizing masterplan for 23-hectare Pasig-Mandaluyong CBD
August 24, 2009
THE PHILIPPINE STAR

MANILA, Philippines - Campos-led Greenfileds Development Corp. is finalizing a masterplan for its 23-hectare property in Mandaluyong City, which currently houses the Unilab facility, into a new central business district that will “measure up with the best in Asia.”

Greenfields chairman Jeffrey Campos said the masterplan for the future Pasig-Mandaluyong CBD is almost ready and will entail the development of residential condominium and office buildings. “When the right time comes, we will come out with the masterplan,” he said.

Campos said the group is open to entering into partnerships with other real estate firms to develop the entire prime property, which is co-owned with Unilab.

“It’s good to be partners with everybody but we also have to build our own name. If there’s an opportunity, why not,” Campos said.

Campos said Unilab has slowly transferred its facilities in Biñan, Laguna but would take another four to five years to vacate the compound.

Greenfield is currently developing Pramana Residential Park in Greenfield City, Sta. Rosa, Laguna – reportedly the first residential park community in the country with over half the area devoted to parks, wide-open spaces and playgrounds.

Founded in 1971, Greenfield began as a landholding company, with vast tracts of land in its portfolio. Its modest beginnings at commercial development began with what was then known as EDSA Crossing. Developed in the early 1970’s as a mixed-use commercial complex with a wet and dry goods market, the old EDSA Central quickly established itself as an accessible hub for various kinds of commerce.

In 1998, Greenfield ventured into another commercial center in the growth center of Santa Rosa with the development of Paseo Commercial Center. Dubbed the outlet mall of the south, Paseo provides a lifestyle center alternative to the regular boxed up malls.

Greenfield also ventured into residential developments, with Hillsborough Subdivision Muntinlupa City in 1988, Southwoods Residences, Carmona in 1994, Lexington Garden Village, Pasig City opened in 1997, San Antonio Heights and San Rafael Estates in Sto. Tomas, Batangas in 1998, and the 600-hectare Maunong property now known as Ayala Greenfield Estates developed in the year 1999.

In 2004, it launched the now completed 40-storey Soho Central Condominium with the Century Properties and Meridien Group.

In an effort to provide complete community developments, Greenfield also provided a venue for the work force to thrive. In 1998, it developed the Greenfield Auto Park (GAP), a special industrial estate covering 65 hectares, which caters to light industries and auto-related manufacturing companies. It enjoys PEZA privileges and incentives and is now the home of Ford Motors in the Philippines.

Aside from this, Greenfield opened the Santa Rosa Business Park in 2004, giving choice lots for corporate headquarters, hotels, business schools and institutions.



Century Properties plans to diversify into middle-income market
August 22, 2009
MANILA BULLETIN

With its success in developing high-end real residential condominium projects, Century Properties Inc. is now ready to diversify to the middle-income market and expects to launch its first such project by the end of the year.

In an informal talk with reporters during the unveiling of the recently-completed P3 billion Soho Central, Century Properties chief operating officer John Victor Antonio said it will be a mixed-use development.

He said the middle-level project will offer units priced at P2 million and above and will be developed on their own since it will be built on land already owned by Century Properties.

Keeping a tight lid over details of the project, Antonio noted that the project is still on the drawing board and changes can still be made on the architectural designs prior to its launch by December.

Century Properties, Meridien Development and Greenfield Development Corporation celebrated the early turnover of their joint venture residential condominium Soho Central last Tuesday.

“We are proud to have delivered Soho Central to our valued clients ahead of schedule. For this we have much to celebrate and thank for,” said Antonio. It was originally scheduled for turnover in December 2009 for the Shaw Tower and December 2010 for the Mayflower Tower.

He said about 60 percent of the unit owners are Filipinos working overseas while the balance are local residents including those working in nearby business process outsourcing centers.

For his part, Meridien president Rafael Yaptinchay said “we thank our partners and homeowners for working with us to deliver this remarkable project.”

With its early completion, unit turnover started in June 2009 and Soho Central now has a total of 255 units owners moved-in, said Antonio adding that unit turnover may continue until late this year.

The 886 unit condominium was the first residential building to rise as part of Greenfield’s planned 22 hectare mixed use project in Mandaluyong called Greenfield District.

Greenfield said Soho Central’s walkway to the MRT EDSA Central Station is expected to open between October and December 2009 while Soho Central’s commercial areas at the first to third floors are expected to open in the second half of 2010.



Developers celebrate early completion of SOHO Central
August 16, 2009
www.manilatimes.net

Century Properties, Meridien Development and Greenfield Development Corp. celebrated the early turnover of their joint venture residential condominium, SOHO Central, with blessing and unveiling ceremonies on Tuesday.

Top officials of the three firms gathered with SOHO Central homeowners at the building grounds in Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City.

Invited as guests of honor were Rep. Neptali Gonzales 2nd of Mandaluyong District, Mayor Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. of Mandaluyong City and Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board chief executive officer and commissioner, Romulo Fabul.

“We are proud to have delivered SOHO Central to our valued clients ahead of schedule. For this we have much to celebrate and thank for,” said Century Properties Chief Operating Officer John Victor Antonio.

“We thank our partners and homeowners for working with us to deliver this remarkable project,” said Meridien Development president Rafael Yaptinchay of SOHO Central, which was designed by Arch. Roger Villarosa of R. Villarosa Architects & Associates.

The 886-unit condominium was the first residential building to rise as part of Greenfield’s planned 22-hectare mixed-use project in Mandaluyong called the Greenfield District. SOHO Central was originally scheduled for turnover in December 2009 for the Shaw Tower, and December 2010 for the Mayflower Tower.

With its early completion, unit turnover started in June 2009. SOHO Central has a total of 297 unit owners moved in to date.

Unit turnover is in progress and may continue until late this year, Antonio said. He added that residents expressed delight on the project’s early completion as they can move immediately or lease out their units for added rental income.

SOHO Central amenities are now open for the use of residents, including the adult and children’s swimming pools, the fitness center with gym and aerobics areas, function/meeting room with pantry, business center and homeowner’s lounge. Laundry services are available at the 41st floor while the Serenity Spa, which has steam bath and sauna areas, is now servicing residents at the fourth floor.

SOHO Central’s walkway to the MRT Edsa Central Station is expected to open between October to December 2009, according to Greenfield Development. Greenfield also expects to open SOHO Central’s commercial areas at the first to third floors on the second half of 2010.

Century Properties Group is the largest privately owned real estate corporation in the country, with 23 years in real estate development, marketing and management. It has more than 40 developments in its portfolio, including the award-winning Essensa East Forbes; South of Market in Fort Bonifacio, Canyon Ranch and The Casitas at Canyon Ranch in Carmona. Its current projects with its various subsidiaries are The Gramercy Residences and The Knightsbridge Residences at the 3.4-hectare Century City in Kalayaan Avenue, Makati, Grand Soho Makati in and the third phase of Canyon Ranch, called The Moderno.

For more information, visit www.century-properties.com.



Century Properties sets sights on mid-market
August 13, 2009
www.manilatimes.net

CENTURY Properties plans to widen its product portfolio this year to include the middle-income segment of the market.

During the unveiling of the Soho Central, John Victor Antonio, Century Properties managing director and chief operating officer, said the company will sell units for as low as P2 million each.

Antonio said the project, which would not be located in “a prime area,” would be announced before the end of the year.

The project would be wholly owned by Century Properties.

“It will be in our exiting land bank. It’s quite substantial actually,” Antonio said, declining to give details about the new venture.

The real estate firm is the developer of Essensa East Forbes in Makati City and Canyon Ranch in Carmona.

Antonio said the residential market in the Philippines is resilient, adding that local developers failed to cope with demand in the past years.

Government estimates showed a backlog of 3.6 million units from 2005 to 2010, or about 600,000 units a year.

The executive said the strength of residential units stems from the market’s shift to hard asset investments, following the meltdown in financial instruments and equities. Also boosting demand was the prevailing low-interest rate environment and the relatively stable foreign exchange rate.

To date, the 844-units of Soho Central in Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong, had been sold out, he said.

A 30-square-meter unit at Soho Central costs around P2.7 million, while a 65-square-meter unit is priced at P5.85 million.

With its early completion, unit turnover started in June with 255 homeowners having moved in, Antonio said.

Soho is located at the 22-hectare mixed-use Greenfield District project of Campos-led Greenfield Development Corp.

Antonio said developing Soho Central cost P3 billion.



SOHO Central in Mandaluyong turned over to owners ahead of schedule
August 12, 2009
www.gmanews.tv

SOHO Central, a high-end Mandaluyong condominium development that connects to the MRT Edsa Central station, was turned over to owners ahead of schedule.

The condominium development – a joint venture among Century Properties Group, Meridien Development, and Greenfield Development Corp. – is a redevelopment of the 22-hectare mixed-use Greenfield District in Mandaluyong City.

The 886-unit condominium project was the first residential building to rise as part of Greenfield's planned project. Its amenities include adult and children's swimming pools, fitness center with gym and aerobic areas, function/meeting room with pantry, business center, and homeowner's lounge.

The condominium's walkway to the MRT Edsa Central Station is expected to open between October and December 2009, Greenfield Development said. Greenfield also expects to open SOHO Central's commercial areas at the first to third floors on the second half of 2010.

The project’s development cost was P3 billion, John Victor Antonio, Century Properties chief operating officer, said.

Studio, single-bedroom, and two-bedroom units were originally sold at P70,000 per square meter but had gone up at P90,000 per square meter recently.

Jeffrey Joseph Campos, Greenfield chairman and president, said the company will need between 25 and 50 years for the complete redevelopment of the Greenfield property, which will include hotels and other features fore leisure, retail, commercial, and residential components.

Meanwhile, Antonio also revealed that Century Property may soon launch projects catering to the middle income market or residential units priced at P2 million and above.

Century Properties claims to be the largest privately-owned real estate corporation in the country with 23 years in real estate development, marketing and management.

It has more than 40 developments in its portfolio, including the award-winning Essensa East Forbes; South of Market in Fort Bonifacio, Canyon Ranch and The Casitas at Canyon Ranch in Carmona.

Its current projects with its various subsidiaries are The Gramercy Residences and The Knightsbridge Residences at the 3.4-hectare Century City in Kalayaan Avenue, Makati, Grand Soho Makati and the third phase of Canyon Ranch called The Moderno. - GMANews.TV



Remittances hit $8.5 billion in first 6 months
August 18, 2009
www.philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines - Millions of Filipinos working overseas sent home a record high $1.5 billion in June, up 3.3 percent from last year, allaying fears that remittances will dry up amid the global slowdown.

The June data brought total remittances for the first half of the year to $8.5 billion, up 2.9 percent from a year ago, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported yesterday.

The June figure raises hopes remittances for the full year could top the previous record of $16.4 billion set in 2008.

“The continued growth of remittance flows since January this year accompanied by emerging signs of improving global economic conditions have affirmed the positive outlook for steady remittances for 2009,” BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said yesterday.

He said that sustained foreign demand for highly-skilled and professional Filipino workers combined with wider access of overseas Filipinos and their beneficiaries to a broad array of financial products and services offered by banks and other financial institutions have been the driving factors behind the sustained growth in remittances.

The government expects deployment of Filipino workers abroad to be steady in the months ahead given the employment arrangements between the Philippines and host countries such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Australia and South Korea.

Apart from the prospective recruitment of about 4,000 Filipino medical workers in Libya, the Tripoli-based Philippine Overseas Labor Office is also exploring employment opportunities for OFWs in non-traditional markets such as Algeria, Chad, Malta, and Morocco, particularly in the hotel, oil and gas, and technical services sectors.

Furthermore, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) reported that the employment of additional production workers in Taiwan will be facilitated starting August this year through the special hiring program for Taiwan (SHPT) in cooperation with the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO).

The government’s strong support for overseas Filipino workers in crisis-affected countries has also resulted in the deceleration in the OFWs displacement rate.

The BSP also said that the continued expansion of bank and non-bank service providers’ of their international and domestic market coverage also helped sustain the inflow of remittances.

The enhancement of their operations overseas and the introduction of new products and services have contributed significantly in addressing the remittance needs of overseas Filipinos and their beneficiaries, the BSP said.

For the period January to June 2009, the major sources of remittances were the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Japan, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Italy, and Germany.

The World Bank had earlier projected a four percent drop in remittances this year but Tetangco said that signs of a global economic recovery “affirmed the positive outlook for steady remittances for 2009.” – With AP - By Iris C. Gonzales (Philstar News Service, www.philstar.com)



Moody's hikes RP rating due to resilient economy
July 23, 2009
GMANews.tv

MANILA, Philippines - Moody’s Investors Service upgraded the Philippines’ sovereign ratings, indicating its optimism that the country’s economy would remain resilient despite the global slowdown.

The upgrade was due to the “relatively high degree of resiliency exhibited by both the country's financial system and external payments position in face of the global financial and economic crises."

The ratings agency raised the Philippines’ foreign and local currency government ratings to Ba3 from B1 despite a fiscal gap that surged to more than eight times during the first six months of the year.

The country ceiling for foreign currency bonds was also promoted to Ba1 from Ba3 after its assessment indicated a lower risk of an external payments moratorium.

Improvement in the country's long-term fiscal outlook is expected to be brought about by “more progress in shoring up government revenues, both through tightened administration and the introduction of new tax measures, several of which are pending before Congress," Moody's senior vice president Tom Byrne said.

The last rating action on Philippines was taken last February when Moody's affirmed the positive outlook on the government of the Philippines' B1 rating.

Although it recognized the widening budget deficit, Moody’s believed this can be financed from domestic and foreign funding sources.

The Philippines was able to “exploit the re-opening of global credit markets this year in its effort to minimize both a crowding-out of the domestic markets and a rise in government bond yields," the ratings agency said.

"At the same time, Moody's notes that pressures have risen on the budget and are more severe than had been originally expected this year by the government," Byrne said.

However, Moody’s warned downward pressure on the rating would come from the country’s inability to improve government finances as the global economy recovers or from a structural weakening in the balance of payments.

It cites exports of manufactures and services along with inflows of remittances as key concerns.

For his part, Finance Secretary Margarito B. Teves said the upgrade “affirms our sound response to the global financial crisis."

“The credit rating action becomes more significant as this was done after more than four years with the Philippines rated at B1 since February 2005 and at a time when the world economy is experiencing probably its worst crisis in global history," he said in a text message.

“The credit ratings upgrade clearly shows confidence in the resiliency of the Philippine economy which was earned through formulation and implementation of economic and fiscal reforms early on," he added.

The government already incurred half of its P250 billion target during the first semester at P153.4 billion even if it spent below the P736.5 billion-target at P699.1 billion as it failed to meet the P581.4-billion revenue goals.

“The Philippines' larger budget deficit is mainly a result of the collapse in economic activity, a pattern that is evident in other regional and global economies," Moody’s said in a statement.

The ratings agency added that it expects “economic growth will be gradually restored and, along with that, some pick-up in the government's fiscal revenue performance will help contain the abnormally large deficit."

Moody's cited a stable peso is “crucial" for keeping in check budgetary debt service payments and reflecting the “resiliency of the balance-of-payments to the global crisis."

Lower inflation – which has been kept within the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ 2.5 t 4.5 percent estimate – “should help ease pressure on the exchange rate this year," Byrne said.

The low inflation environment would be able to provide “the central bank with scope to maintain an accommodative monetary policy to cushion the effects of the global recession," Byrne said.

Byrne emphasized policy prudence and additional fiscal reform along with continued improvement in the investment environment “to place the economy on a path of a strong, sustainable growth."

"For the Philippines' rating to move upwards, Moody's will assess prospects for the continued resiliency of the country's balance of payments, the health of the financial system, and progress towards the achievement of the new, fiscal consolidation goal by 2013," he said.



Bangko Sentral notes growing investments by OFWs
June 14, 2009
PHILIPPINE STAR

MANILA, Philippines – Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been known to favor saving portions of their earnings but lately, the central bank has noted more of them have also begun making investments.

Every year, about $16 billion worth of foreign exchange is sent home by Filipinos working abroad and through the decades, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said these inflows have supported private spending.

Consumer spending, according to BSP deputy governor Diwa Guinigundo, accounted for over 60 percent of the country’s economic production, making overseas workers the strongest economic drivers.

But Guinigundo said overseas Filipinos have only recently begun to develop the financial maturity for strategic spending – apportioning their earnings to consumption, savings and investments.

In the latest Consumer Expectations Survey conducted by the BSP, it was shown that investments made by families of overseas Filipinos have increased significantly in the second quarter of the year.

On the whole, the survey results indicated that OFW households utilized their remittances primarily for food, education, medical expenses, debt payments, and savings in the second quarter of the year.v Out of the OFW households surveyed, the quarterly survey indicated that 96.2 percent of these households spent part of their remittances for food and other household needs.

On the other hand, 68.2 percent of the OFW households used their remittances for education expenses, and more than half (51.1 percent) allotted remittances for debt payments.

The percentage of OFW households that utilized remittances to purchase consumer durables and motor vehicles increased to 25.9 percent and seven percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, the survey noted a broadly steady percentage of OFW households at 10.8 percent (from 11.2 percent in the previous quarter) allocating part of their remittances to amortization or full payment for houses purchased.

The percentage of households that allotted portions of remittances to savings dropped slightly to 38.3 percent (from 40.0 percent in the first quarter) but the survey showed this was not necessarily bad news.

According to the survey, the percentage that devoted a part of the remittances to investment increased appreciably to 8.3 percent in the second quarter from 5.9 percent in the first quarter.

Guinigundo explained that savings and investments increase the pool of resources available to both households and corporate borrowers for their credit needs. “That helps sustain economic activity,” he said.

Guinigundo pointed out that the country’s savings rate was much lower compared to other countries in the region although he said the national savings rate also included public savings.

“Public savings in turn depend on the government’s ability to collect taxes and improve its fiscal position,” Guinigundo said. “All other things considered, there is further scope for higher level of savings.”

The BSP, however, is wary of encouraging savings at a time when the economy would need a sustained increase in spending to support activities that would cushion the impact of the global slowdown.

“Having the scope for higher savings does not mean of course that we should discourage consumption expenditure in the economy,” Guinigundo said. “Consumption sustains higher level of economic activity.”

Guinigundo added consumption expenditure could also be supported by higher level of savings and investment that in the future would give the consumer more and higher stream of future income.

According to the BSP, the shift was likely the result of growing pessimism over the country’s economic prospects which compelled families to save and invest rather than spend on consumables.



'Hot' money inflows surged in May
June 13, 2009
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

MANILA, Philippines—The perception that the worst of the global economic turmoil has passed appears to have revived appetite for portfolio investments, with the Philippines registering a net inflow of foreign “hot money” in May, reversing the flight of portfolio capital reported the previous month.

According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), $978 million worth of foreign portfolio investments flowed into the country in May, offsetting the $480 million that was funneled out in the same month.

The resulting net inflow of $498 million in May was a turnaround from the $276 million worth of net outflow seen in April.

The latest net amount of foreign portfolio investments was also a reverse of the $173.8 million in net outflow posted in May last year.

The country’s performance in attracting portfolio investments in May brought the total net inflow of foreign hot money in the first five months of the year to $276 million—a swing from the net outflow of $461 million in the same period last year.

“On the global front, confidence in the world economy rose as job losses in the United States continued to slow down and global production improved, reinforcing the growing perception that the crisis has bottomed out,” BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr.

Most analysts believe that the global economy’s recovery from the existing turmoil, described as the worst crisis since the Great Depression, is likely to be slow.

But according to Tetangco, the perception that the worst of the crisis has passed seems to have prompted some portfolio investors to start investing again.

Emerging economies like the Philippines are benefiting from the renewed confidence of portfolio investors, he said.

The central bank reported that 91 percent of gross inflows of hot money in May were placed in publicly listed companies, while the balance was invested in peso-denominated government securities. On the other hand, the gross outflow was mostly those withdrawn from bank deposits.

Monetary authorities said that if the revitalized confidence of foreign portfolio investors were to be sustained, the Philippine economy could maintain a surplus in its balance of payments (BOP). They said the Philippines so far found no need to borrow just to maintain a healthy level of external liquidity.

The central bank has projected that the country’s BOP for the year will likely register a surplus of $700 million.

BOP, a record of the country’s commercial transactions with the rest of the world, is the difference between inflows and outflows of foreign currencies to and from the economy. A surplus in the BOP increases the country’s total reserves of foreign currencies



RP not likely to slip into recession
June 2, 2009
PHILIPPINE STAR

MANILA, Philippines – The Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines (JFC) is not expecting the economy to slip into a recession this year, thanks to the country’s strong remittance inflows and revenues from the information technology (IT) services sector.

In a report released yesterday, the seven-member chamber said money sent home by overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and revenues from the IT-enabled services sector will support the continued growth of domestic consumption, allowing the Philippines to show positive gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2009.

“There is a chance of mild recession should global recovery be slow and remittance and service revenue flows deteriorate more than expected. But this seems unlikely,” the report said.

“The archipelago is the leader in East Asia in the deployment of overseas workers and in the IT-enabled services sector,” it added. Last month, consulting firm Ovum Plc. said government initiatives for technology adoption will drive the growth of the country’s IT sector.

OFW remittances hit a record $1.47 billion in March from $1.3 billion recorded in the previous month. Its growth rate, however, slowed to 3.04 percent as traditionally strong remittance sources, such as the United States and the Middle East, contracted or were flat.

For the full year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is expecting a flat growth in remittances, while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected a 7.1-percent decline. However, JFC said the growth of remittance inflows remain positive for the first three months of the year at 2.6 percent.

“We expect remittances to return gradually over several years to 2008 volumes and to grow in rough proportion to global economic recovery,” JFC said. Last year, remittances increased 14 percent to $16.4 billion, accounting for 10 percent of GDP.

Meanwhile, JFC said the upcoming national elections will also boost the country’s GDP by less than one percent.

“Election spending should have a booster shot effect on GDP. But any recurrence of serious political intability could be a negative tipping point. Such risks require vigilance and avoidance of complacency,” the report said.

JFC’s position in the report remain unchanged even as the National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB) reported a 0.4-percent GDP growth for the first three months of the year, the lowest since the Asian financial crisis.

The latest figure was much worse than the government’s 1.8 to 2.8 percent quarterly projection. But while the country is still posting positive growths, NSCB Secretary General Romulo Virola said the Philippines is already on “the brink of recession” not just based on GDP rates but on worrisome May to June leading economic indicatores.

The indicators include the consumer price index, electricity consumption, exchange rate, hotel occupancy rate, money supply, number of new business incorporations, stock price index, terms of trade index, total imports, tourist arrivals and wholesale price index.



Exports seen to pick up as global economy recovers
June 1, 2009
PHILIPPINE STAR

MANILA, Philippines - The country’s exports of goods and services are expected to pick up in the coming months — reversing a sharp contraction since last year — as the global economy starts recovering from a crippling recession, Trade Secretary Peter Favila said.

He said there have been encouraging signs of an export-led recovery, pointing as an example food and furniture exporters who have reportedly started recovering the lost orders they have incurred at the height of the worldwide economic slowdown.

More importantly, Favila noted that the electronics industry appears to be gaining ground again. “This is good news because this is our number one export,” he said.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) earlier said merchandise exports are showing signs of recovery, posting a 15.9-percent growth in March this year from the previous month, as exports of all major commodity groups performed better than in February.

The economic planning agency also pointed out that while there was a 30.9-percent decline in exports shipments in March from a year ago, this was also an improvement from a 39-percent reduction in February, “indicating signs of the easing recession in trading countries.”

Exports earnings for March 2009 reached $2.9 billion compared to $2.5 billion in the previous month but lower than $4.2 billion in March 2008. On a cumulative basis, export revenues for the first quarter of 2009 amounted to $7.9 billion, 36.8 percent lower than the same period in 2008.

“The slight rebound in electronics in March compared to the previous month followed global trends wherein worldwide sales of semiconductors grew by 3.3 percent, as demand has somewhat stabilized, as reported by the Semiconductor Industry Association,” the NEDA report said.

NEDA added that market research company iSupply Inc. has observed that “the global semiconductor manufacturing industry is expected to take a breather in the second quarter as utilization rises by 60 percent”. The majority of the country’s electronic exports for the month of March went to China, the Netherlands, United States, Hong Kong and Japan.

The United States remained the biggest overseas market for Philippine goods with a 17.3 percent share in total export revenues in March. Japan was the second major destination of outbound shipments in March with a 15.4 percent share.

Other major export markets were China (10.6 percent), Hong Kong (9.4 percent), and the Netherlands (9.2 percent). The aggregated shipments to China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan accounted for 23.3 percent of the total merchandise exports in March 2009.

Semiconductor devices, electronic data processing (EDP) machines, and garments made up 65 percent of the total shipments to the five biggest export markets in March 2009.

Favila said aside from the exports industry, other forecast drivers for growth in the second quarter are the tourism and the business process outsourcing (BPO) sectors.



Labor, agri accords signed in Seoul
May 31, 2009
MANILA BULETTIN

SEOUL, South Korea (via PLDT) — More Filipinos working or planning to work in South Korea have a reason to celebrate, following the extension of a bilateral agreement giving Filipino workers three years to work in South Korea.

South Korea is home to 60,000 Filipinos, most of whom are working here.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito Roque said the Republic of Korea (ROK) has given 8,000 slots for Filipino workers in the latest memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two countries.

Roque is accompanying President Arroyo, who is on her second day of official bilateral visit here upon the invitation of South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak. After which, the President will be heading for Jeju Island for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Republic Korea Commemorative Summit on June 1 and 2.

Roque signed the MoU with South Korea Labor Minister Lee Young-hee at the Blue House, which was witnessed by President Arroyo and President Lee.

Roque said the renewal of the MoU gives Filipino workers a chance to work in South Korea, particularly in the manufacturing sector, for a period of three years.

Prior to the renewal of the MoU, the two countries had agreed to give Filipinos a chance to work in South Korea for only a period of two years.

The MOU, which focuses on the employment permit system (EPS) of workers, started in 2004 and is constantly being renewed by the two governments.

Roque disclosed that another MoU, which is on cooperation in the field of labor and manpower development, focuses more on the technical aspect, particularly on the exchange of experts. This, he said, is expected to improve the technical capability of the country’s human resources.

Also in Seoul, the Philippine government is expected to bring home an estimated $500 million worth of new agricultural investments from two Korean private institutions in its bid to improve livelihood in the countryside.

"We’re computing that the investments that the agriculture (sector) is bringing home are about $500 million," Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said.

Yap is also part of Mrs. Arroyo’s official delegation in this city.

The agriculture secretary said the Philippines has forged an agreement with two Korean private firms - Eco-Solutions and Enviro–Plasma - that will benefit the Philippine agricultural sector.

He said that the Eco-Solutions is pegging $175 million for a two- year project to tap Sarangani, South Cotabato as a jatropha planting area.

"The Department of Agriculture (DA) is helping package the entire deal," he said.

The other Korean firm, Enviro-Plasma, is starting immediately a $300-million sugar bioethanol project in Central Luzon.

He said the DA helped iron out the project, which will be locally led by the Central Luzon Bioethanol Corp.

Enviro-Plasma said it is looking for a 40,000-hectare sugarland in Tarlac, Pampanga, Zambales, and Bataan for bioethanol production.

The Philippine Council for Industry and Energy Research and Development (PCIERD) in its Biofuels Science and Technology roadmap, includes the use of sugar from sugarcane for bioethanol and jatropha for biodiesel production.

The national government started its five percent total volume mandate last Feb. 6, three years after the Biofuels Act of 2006 was signed into law.

As for biodiesel, the government mandated two percent use of biodiesel blend starting last Feb. 6 from one percent since the law was passed in 2006. The country is targeting 60 percent energy self-sufficiency by 2010 from the current 57 percent.

Yap also disclosed that the country has forged an agreement with the Rural Development Administration of Korea for a technical tie-up.

The Rural Development Administration of Korea is South Korea’s research and extension arm in agriculture, which can help the country in developing food processing technologies, especially in preserving and prolonging top local fruits’ shelf life.

"It is worth noting today that the Philippines is still the number one supplier of bananas, pineapples, and mangoes and is the second largest supplier of coconut products and by-products in South Korea," Yap said.

He also noted that the Korea International Cooperation Agency has given a study grant for Malinao Dam in Bohol worth P800-million.

"This will be an P800-million expansion project for the next three years. This would ensure that we can now water the entire service area of the irrigation project in Malinao dam," Yap disclosed.

The expansion project will cover 5,000 hectares of irrigated land from the previous 3,200 hectares.

Aside from the two new investments, the agriculture sector is also a beneficiary of the latest MOU between the Philippines and South Korea, including the establishment of a rice processing complex in Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan; Pototan, Iloilo; Pilar, Bohol; and Matanao, Davao del Sur; and agricultural, scientific, and technical cooperations.



Peso expected to trade well in second half
May 21, 2009
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

MANILA, Philippines—The peso is expected to remain relatively stable over the next two quarters, as gradual easing of the global crisis may offset factors that lead to depreciation of the local currency.

This was according to investment bank ING, which projected that the peso would trade well within the range of 47.5 to 48.5 against the US dollar over the next two quarters.

In a recent paper on the Philippines and other Asian countries, ING said “weak BOP [balance of payments] and public finances could limit the downside, while global healing would cap the upside.”

In the first four months of the year, the country’s BOP hit a surplus of $2.198 billion, higher than the $2.14 billion in the same period last year.

Despite the year-on-year increase in the BOP as of April, ING said net outflow of foreign portfolio investments would dampen the likelihood of a sustained growth in the BOP. In turn, this could create dampening pressures on the peso.

BOP, a record of the country’s commercial transactions with the rest of the world, shows the difference between inflows and outflows of foreign currencies into the economy.

A surplus in the BOP helps build up the country’s reserve of foreign currencies, also called gross international reserves. GIR determines a country’s ability to engage in commercial transactions, such as importation and payment of debts denominated in foreign currencies.

ING said the government’s weakening fiscal position could also drag the peso down. The government incurred a budget deficit of P111.8 billion in January to April, higher than the P25.8 billion in the same period last year.

A higher budget gap tends to increase interest rates and, therefore, raise the government’s required spending for debt servicing.

Higher servicing of dollar-denominated debts pushes up demand for the greenback and thus cause the peso to depreciate.

But ING said the impact of weak BOP and fiscal condition on the peso would be offset by the positive effect of easing uncertainty in the global economic front.

Although advanced economies are still seen to be in recession in 2009, some analysts said the crisis could have already bottomed out and a slight recovery could be expected by the end of the year.

Gradual revival of the global economy would benefit emerging economies like the Philippines, analysts said.

The peso is expected to average weaker this year from last year’s P44.47 to a dollar. But ING said the local currency would not likely move past P48.50 to the dollar.



OFW inflows remain strong amid crisis
May 20, 2009
PHILIPPINE STAR

MANILA, Philippines - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said its zero-growth remittance projection for 2009 is now considered conservative, with inflows growing by 2.7 percent in the first quarter of the year.

BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said remittance inflows are still positive, reflecting the double-digit increase in the deployment of new workers abroad that easily offset job losses and wage cuts.

Because of the strength of remittance inflows as well as the initial resilience of the country’s exports that Tetangco said might not fall as much as expected, the BSP had also started reviewing its balance of payments forecast for the year.

The BSP’s 2009 BOP forecast pegged a $700-million surplus by yearend – not so much when compared to 2006 and 2007 levels but significantly better than the 2008 surplus of $88 million. “We are still projecting a surplus about $700 million, but we will review that,” Tetangco said.

According to Tetangco, the $2.2-billion surplus in the first four months resulted from the decision of the National Government to frontload its borrowings from both commercial and official development assistance (ODA) sources.

“But there will be foreign exchange requirements by the end of the year,” Tetangco pointed out. “We have to look at the improvements in inflow, particularly considering the impact of the improvement in risk appetite that could put funds back in emerging markets.”

Tetangco also expressed optimism that there would be improvements in the global economy by the second half of the year and this could mean exports would not plummet as badly as expected.

“So there could be slower decline in exports in second half,” he said.



Shares close 1.05% higher
May 20, 2009
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE) Share prices closed 1.05 percent higher Wednesday to hit a seven-month high on expectations of another round interest rate cuts, dealers said.

The composite index rose 24.18 points to close at 2,333.76, while the all-shares index rose 1.50 percent, or 22.40 points, to close at 1,506.40.

A total of 2.98 billion shares worth P3.66 billion ($77.21 million) changed hands.

Advancers trumped decliners 96 to 19, while 44 issues were unchanged.

The peso traded at P47.40 to the dollar from its previous close of P47.28.

"The prospect of further (monetary policy) easing and sustained remittance growth bodes well for the property sector," Jose Vistan of AB Capital Securities told Dow Jones Newswires.



Alternative tourists flocking to the Philippines
May 18, 2009
www.goodnewspilipinas.com

Tourists and “alternative travelers” are continuously flocking to the Philippines despite the worldwide recession and threat of swine flu.

The Department of Tourism cited the growing impact of European and Japanese alternative travel markets who have become discriminating and demanding for historical destinations, cultural and eco-tourism sites.

“We are now seeing a more significant number of high-spending tourists looking for places of raw and rustic charm without the trappings of mass tourism.” the DOT said.

For most of the European and Japanese travellers, the Banaue Rice Terraces stood out as a one-of-a-kind heritage site they haven’t encountered anywhere in the world. The caves, hills, and hanging coffins of Sagada were also cited for their distinctive and idyllic appeal even for seasoned travelers.

The Japanese are looking forward to ‘travel with a twist’ among our more than 7,107 islands,”

DOT Undersecretary Eduardo Jarque, Jr., said the country has managed to build a continuing relationship with Europe’s tourism industry through its participation in major travel missions, aggressive marketing of European-based tourism offices, concessions with local partners and strong presence in foreign media.

He also said “the Philippines’ exposure in Japanese media as an ‘alternative destination’ indeed made a significant difference in intensifying the country’s position as an important historical destination.”

“This is not an overnight success, but rather a long journey of negotiations, promotions, and involvement, complemented with the unyielding support of our partner hotels, resorts, transportation firms, and travel operators,” Jarque said.

The country is likewise a year-round destination, another desirable rarity for Europeans, explained Venus Tan, DOT Director for Western, Central and Eastern Europe.

Dorie Tan, handler of DOT’s Europe promotion team, for her part, said: “They (Europeans) are interested in unique culture so they plan their visits at different times of the year. They want to experience a country’s diversity also through festivals and celebrations.”

“We see an emergence of niche travelers within the Japan market; those who are enticed by the extraordinary. They travel to discover and explore not only sites, but stories of people,” Director Benito Bengzon Jr., Marketing Team head for Japan, said.

Sedat Tatli, director, Division for Asia of Meier’s Weltreisen, pointed out that @a factor that draws tourists to the Philippines is that its easy to hop around the islands because almost everybody speaks English.”

Eric Roufs, travel retailer for Dutch operator Paul Crombag, said “some of my clients will ask me to buy them a ticket to the Philippines then they go on their own to book flights and accommodations to the other islands. Accessible language and transportation allow them to add spontaneity to their holidays.”



Stock consolidation seen after strong rally
May 11, 2009
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

MANILA, Philippines—Local stocks are widely expected to consolidate this week after posting their best performance so far this year last week.

The main-share Philippine Stock Exchange index surged 6.58 percent week-on-week to close at a year-high of 2,241.98 on Friday, boosted by a much-improved sentiment in Wall Street. Financial markets here and abroad cheered reports suggesting the global recession may be easing.

“There will be a consolidation because the market has risen too fast,” said Marvin Fausto, chief investment officer at Banco de Oro Unibank.

Fund managers said any market dip would be an opportunity to accumulate undervalued stocks as investor sentiment here and abroad had turned positive.

“We’ve seen the worst of the panic. The uncertainty is being addressed by giving numbers, as the (US) banks started giving numbers on capital requirements,” Fausto said.



Economists lower inflation forecast to 4% this year
By Des Ferriols
May 11, 2009
Excerpts from the article on The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Economists have lowered their projected average inflation rate for this year from 4.5 percent to four percent, falling within the government’s official target inflation of 3.5 to 5.5 percent.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) conducted a survey among private sector economists and analysts in the first quarter of the year and the resuls showed that inflation expectations have improved.

Based on its survey of non-government analysts and economists, the BSP said the mean inflation forecast for 2009 was four percent, lower than the 4.5-percent forecast in the survey three months previously.

The BSP said its survey indicated an average forecast inflation rate of 3.9 percent in the second quarter and 1.7 percent in the third quarter.

For 2010, the BSP said the average inflation forecast was relatively stable at 4.9 percent (from 4.8 percent a quarter ago).

“Inflationary pressures are expected to be dampened by soft global commodity prices owing to the severe economic slowdown and continued lack of demand-pull pressures,” the BSP said.

According to the BSP, most economists expect strong base effects from very high consumer price index (CPI) levels in 2008 when the average rate peaked at over 12 percent in the third quarter.



Shares close 0.14% higher
May 8, 2009
AGENCE FRANCE_PRESSE

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE 2) Shares closed 0.14 percent higher on Friday as investors bought undervalued stocks anticipating a strong rally in the near future, dealers said.

The composite index rose 3.06 points to 2,241.98, while the all-shares index rose 0.45 percent to 1,443.10.

There were 76 gainers against 36 losers and 39 that were unchanged.

Turnover amounted to 2.244 billion shares worth P3.255 billion ($68.4 million).

The local currency traded at P47.56 on Friday morning from its close of P47.45 to the dollar on Thursday.

"The Philippine market is making a bet that there is still a search for discounted values out there," said Nisha Alizer of DA Market Securities Inc.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. fell 0.46 percent to P2,160 while its main rival, Globe Telecom slipped 0.6 percent to P815.

But property giant Megaworld Corp. gained 1.06 percent to 95 centavos while Filinvest Land rose 6.35 percent to P67.



Job loss a threat on the wane
By Michelle Remo
May 6, 2009
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

MANILA, Philippines—The National Economic and Development Authority has expressed confidence that the country’s employment woes, marked by job layoffs mostly in the manufacturing sector, may soon be over.

According to Dennis Arroyo, Neda director for policy and planning, there have been indications that job cuts by firms here in the country may have already reached its peak in March.

“There are signs that job displacements are already bottoming out,” Arroyo told reporters. “Official data are encouraging.”

He cited data from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), showing that layoffs reached 1,026 in the first half of April. This was a stark slowdown from the peak of 14,512 job losses recorded in March.

Job cuts have been blamed on the recession in advanced economies, particularly in the United States, that serve as major export markets of the Philippines.

Hardest hit are electronics exporters, which saw a drastic slide in global demand for their products. Analysts said that, in tough times, it was natural for households to focus spending only on essentials.

Because electronics is the country’s major export product, accounting for about 60 percent of total, anemic global demand for these items dragged down the country’s export revenue. Exports have been falling by double-digit figures since late last year.

But Arroyo said job cuts in the electronics sector would soon end. He cited a report by the US-based Semiconductors Industry Association that sales of semiconductors inched up a bit to $14.7 billion in March from $14.2 billion in February.

As far as overseas employment is concerned, Arroyo said, prospects were also improving. He said projections of declines in remittances—due to layoffs in advanced economies—were exaggerated given that job opportunities were opening in other offshore labor markets.



Property issues lift stocks
May 6, 2009
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

MANILA, Philippines—Local stocks held on to recent gains despite an overnight retreat in Wall Street as offshore investors tempered their risk-taking ahead of the US government’s stress tests on banks.

The main-share Philippine Stock Exchange index Wednesday inched up by 0.41 percent to close at 2,206.23 despite a continued cautious trading on index heavyweight PLDT and profit-taking on other stocks like EDC and Metrobank.

The financial sector and property indices were slightly up 0.31 percent and 0.99 percent, respectively, while the service and mining counters were marginally down.

Total trades reached about P3.5 billion, with 67 gainers edging out 41 decliners and 39 unchanged stocks.

Among the stocks which were buoyant were Megaworld, ICTSI, Filinvest Land, Ayala Corp. and SM Investments.

Property stocks are benefiting from expectations of a further downtrend in interest rates as the country’s inflation rate softened further in April.



Stocks surge 2.8%
May 5, 2009
Excerpts from the article on the PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

MANILA, Philippines—Local stocks rallied by 2.8 percent yesterday, taking cue from the bullish Wall Street trading overnight as investors across the globe cheered further signs that the global recession may be easing.

The main-share Philippine Stock Exchange index, which was on a winning streak for the third trading day, gained 60 points to close at 2,197.20. The relatively resilient first-quarter local corporate results and further slowdown in inflation also boosted confidence in stocks despite the cautious trading on index heavyweight PLDT.

Appetite for equities across the globe surged following a report in the United States of a 3.2-percent increase in Americans’ purchases of previously owned homes, which beat forecasts of zero growth. This news sent the S&P index 3.39 percent higher, reversing the losses earlier this year.

Global investor confidence also surged on reports that China’s manufacturing output increased for the first time in nine months, further boosting hopes that the world may have seen the worst of this downturn.

The local stock market rally yesterday was led by the property sector, whose index went up 8.33 percent. The counters for the financial sector, holding firms as well as mining and oil also jumped by 4 percent, 3.8 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively.



Stocks rise on good profit reports
May 4, 2009
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

MANILA, Philippines—The local stock market sprang back vibrantly from a long weekend break, supported by relatively buoyant first-quarter local corporate results and the bullish sentiment across Asian equities.

The main-share Philippine Stock Exchange index yesterday rose 1.62 percent to 2,137.62 despite the sell down on index heavyweights PLDT and Ayala Land.

The financial counter, boosted by an initial stream of rosy profit reports from banks as well as a surprise downtrend in loan delinquency, led the stock index higher with its 3.87-percent rise. The index for holding firms was also up 2.57 percent.

Only the property index traded in the red by 0.468 percent due to selling in Ayala Land.

“The results are not as bad as expected and some are really good, so the market is adjusting stock price valuation,” said Joseph Roxas, president of local stock brokerage Eagle Equities Inc.

He said the companies which had to write off large trading losses last year would now start booking gains.

Roxas said the local market also benefited from the sharp rally in the region especially Taiwan, China and Hong Kong, which were up 6 percent, 2.3 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively.



Peso a shelter in the financial storm
by Rosemarie Francisco
March 24, 2009
Excerpts of the Reuters article posted on Inquirer.net

MANILA, Philippines -- The peso has outperformed most emerging market currencies so far this year and is likely to prove a store of value in 2009 as the economy is less vulnerable to the factors hammering markets elsewhere.

The country is likely to be the only nation in Southeast Asia to post a sharp pick up in its balance of payments surplus in 2009, partly the result of loans and privatization proceeds.

The economy is also less dependent on exports compared with its Asian neighbors, an unexpected bonus when world trade is shrinking and big markets are in recession.

The country's banks have little exposure to the credit problems being experienced elsewhere and the government's finances are far less reliant on overseas debt than in the past.

The big unknown is remittances from Filipinos working abroad, a driver of domestic consumption and pillar of the country's balance of payments. But even in this sector, the Philippines may be better off than many other countries.

"I think what is making it an outperformer is really because of the fact that our number one export, which is really people as reflected in the remittance numbers, will probably be resilient," said Wilfred Song Keng Po, managing director for fund management at AIG Investments in Manila.

"I'm looking at 10 percent decline for remittances as a worst case scenario," he said.

The peso has held its ground so far in 2009. It is down just 1.0 percent against the dollar, when other emerging market Asian currencies are down an average of more than 3.0 percent. Emerging currencies elsewhere are down an average of 5.0 percent.

At 48 per dollar on Tuesday, analysts said the currency might drop to around 50 in coming months if remittance flows disappoint -- a modest fall compared to those already seen in other currencies. The Korean won, Asia's worst performer, is down almost 9.0 percent and has been far more volatile.

NURSES, DOCTORS, HELPERS

The central bank expects 2009 remittances to match 2008's record level of $16.4 billion. Analysts say that is optimistic.

A Reuters poll forecast a 6 percent drop, the biggest fall in nine years and the first drop since 2001.

Remittances are the biggest source of overseas income in the Philippines, generating over a tenth of gross domestic product.

And as the fourth-largest recipient of remittances in the world behind Mexico, China and India, the 14th, third and 12th biggest economies in the world, the Philippines punches well above its economic weight as the 45th biggest economy.

A report prepared for the World Bank sees remittance flows from overseas workers to East Asia and the Pacific falling as much as about 8.0 percent this year, in line with its forecast for developing countries in general, after rising about 7.0 percent in 2008 and by double digits in 2007 and 2006.

Still, the forecast of a drop in remittances for the Philippines this year appears less gloomy compared with an official estimate of a 10 percent fall in such inflows to Indonesia, where remittances reach about 4.0-6.0 percent of GDP.

Filipinos are spread out overseas and hold varied jobs -- from nurses and lawyers to domestic helpers -- providing some resilience in remittances.

"Overseas Filipinos are well diversified geographically. This is unlike overseas Mexican workers, who are almost all in the US," Cem Karacadag, analyst at Credit Suisse, said in a note.



RP seen avoiding recession this year
by Doris C. Dumlao
March 10, 2009
Philippine Daily Inquirer

British banking giant HSBC expects the Philippine economy to grow by about two percent this year and thereby avoiding the recession being suffered by western economies.

The foreign bank’s top representatives in the Philippines are also upbeat on opportunities on both retail and wholesale banking business in the country, despite a lingering global financial turmoil.

Personal finance business is likewise expected to continue growing in the Philippines and the bank has brought in Ron Logan as new head of this segment. Logan headed the same business for HSBC in Vietnam and was CEO of HSBC’s joint venture with Bank of Communications in China.

The new executive said HSBC’s consumer lending would continue to grow, albeit at a single-digit pace or slower than the 15-percent rise seen in previous years. “But that’s still positive. We don’t see a recession. We’ll still see a growth of more than five percent.”

Logan noted that remittances from overseas workers were continuing, the government’s budget deficit is under control and foreign exchange reserves at an all time high. “We’re not seeing a reduction in infrastructure [spending] and there’s a lot of agricultural demand.”

By the second half of this year, Logan added that the country would benefit from fresh spending ahead of the presidential elections, which could be its own internal stimulus.

HSBC, active in local investment banking apart from its personal finance services, expects a heavy pipeline of local fund-raising activities within the next three months, the bank’s country manager Mark Watkinson said in a press briefing yesterday.

“Definitely, the offshore market is more challenging now,” he said, noting that local issuers would thus likely tap the domestic markets.

As to whether there would likely be a crowding out among local borrowers, Watkinson said: “You’ve got to get your timing right. If you go to the market, you’ve got to be conscious who else is issuing at the same time you are. If you issue at the wrong time, at the wrong price, nobody’s going to take your bond.”



41,000 jobs in Visayas, Luzon
March 6, 2009
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines – At least 41,00 jobs in Eastern Visayas and Luzon will be available to workers laid off due to the global financial crisis, government executives announced.

A government program, called the Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP), will provide over 30,000 jobs in Eastern Visayas, according to Presidential Assistant for Eastern Visayas Cynthia Nierras.

Public Works Director for Central Luzon Alfredo Tolentino said 17 firms that won 126 government infrastructure projects worth P5.8 billion in the region are hiring 5,000 workers to help ease the impact of the financial crisis on the labor sector.

In Mimaropa (Mindoro Occidental, Mindoro Oriental, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan), at least 6,000 workers have been given jobs through the CLEEP since it was launched late last year in the region, according to Vice President Noli de Castro.

The CLEEP involves the creation of jobs through government projects and entrepreneurial training.

Nierras said 15 government departments and agencies had been enlisted to provide job placements.

The Department of Public Works and Highways first implemented the CLEEP in Eastern Visayas by holding a jobs fair in Tacloban City last month.

At least 1,000 persons were hired for infrastructure projects during the fair.

The jobs available under CLEEP include membership in the Bantay Dagat (sea watch) and Bantay Gubat (forest watch) organizations in their communities, as well as workers for farm-to-market road constructions, irrigation repair, utility service in public schools, clean-and-green projects, roadside maintenance and flood control projects.

The government will also provide soft loans to those who want to engage in small businesses, such as organic fertilizer production, goat dispersal, swine raising, mini stores, transport business, port stevedoring and fabrication of concrete blocks.

The other government departments and agencies participating in the program are the Departments of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Education, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Health, Department of Justice, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Tourism, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Trade and Industry, and the Department of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Land Transportation Office and the Philippine Ports Authority.

Luzon

Tolentino said construction projects for roads, bridges and school buildings needed machine operators, drivers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, masons, laborers, foremen engineers, surveyors, clerks and medical workers, lists from the Philippine Constructors Association and the National Constructors Association of the Philippines showed.

The projects last from four months to one year, Tolentino said.

The DPWH and DOLE job fairs for the PCA and Nacap in Central Luzon followed the one held on Feb. 23 by the DPWH central office, in which 2,300 workers were hired from among 4,800 applicants.

Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. said the agency aimed to create 500,000 jobs through government infrastructure projects within the year.

He said the DPWH regional office and 14 districts in Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales had been hiring 2,800 workers every three months for road maintenance work.

The national government stepped up its job-generating campaign as more than 40,000 workers were laid-off since the last quarter of 2008.

In Central Luzon, especially at the Clark Freeport in Pampanga and Subic Bay Freeport in Zambales, the number of displaced workers have reached 3,554 and those working less hours, 6,837, in the last two months up to March 2, the DOLE regional office reported.

De Castro, the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development for Mimaropa, said the CLEEP was being implemented through various projects such as roadside maintenance and the Upland Development Program of the DENR.

He said that under the Grassroots Entrepreneurship and Employment Tourism or GREET, two tourism-related livelihood projects were also approved that created jobs for 95 people in Palawan. De Castro said other regional department officials told him that more projects would be implemented in the coming months to provide safety nets for poor families in the region, especially those affected by the crisis.

He called on the DPWH to fast-track the repair and improvement of roads along the nautical highway.

He instructed the DOT to coordinate closely with the local government executives in identifying and spearheading tourism projects in the region. Joey A. Gabieta, Inquirer Visayas and Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon; Cynthia D. Balana in Manila



Business process outsourcing sector expects 200% increase in jobs this year
By Des Ferriols
March 6, 2009
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The business process outsourcing industry is projecting a 200 percent increase in jobs this year as the world’s biggest companies struggle to cut down on costs by outsourcing some of their operations to countries like the Philippines where labor is cheaper.

A survey conducted by the Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP) showed that 95 percent of the industry’s executives and human resource (HR) managers indicated a positive outlook for job growth for 2009, forecasting employment growth of up to 200 percent.

The BPO industry is closely watched by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) since it is fast becoming one of the country’s biggest source of foreign exchange.

The BSP expects exports to actually decline and remittances from overseas workers to slow down dramatically this year. But officials said foreign exchange is expected to flow into the country particularly through BPO operations.

The survey was conducted by the BPAP with Outsource2Philippines (O2P) and TeamAsia and the results indicated that “about 50 percent” of respondents expected their workforce requirements to increase by over 15 percent.

BPAP said the response rate was 24 percent with 158 responses from 664 invitations sent to industry executives in a wide range of BPO sectors. The survey was conducted online.

The survey results indicated that the value add of services outsourced to Philippine BPOs was increasing, which meant that the industry was beginning to grab higher-paying BPO contracts from high-value BPO operations.

“Moderate to very high-value services ranging from financial analysis to knowledge management comprised 97 percent of the services offered by respondent companies,” BPAP said. The survey indicated that 67 percent said their organizations provide high to very high-value services. Sectors that expect the highest workforce increases involve complex services such as back-office processes, IT services and infrastructure management, and website development.

“The average expected ramp-up is 11-15 percent from current staff levels,” BPAP said.

BPO companies with workforces ranging from 1,000 to 15,000 employees expect an average increase in staffing requirements of between six percent and 10 percent, close to the average workforce increase expected across all sectors and respondents.

Small- and medium-sized operations are expecting employment to increase at the same rate. The biggest growth is expected from companies that employ 5,000 to 10,000 personnel, with 33 percent expecting jobs to grow between 11 percent and 15 percent in 2009. – With Elisa Osorio



Philippines’ one of Asia’s bright spots
The Good Balita – www.goodnewspilipinas.com
February 16, 2009

The Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) said the Philippines remains one of the economies in the region insulated from the effects of the global economic downturn.

This was the observation of Dr. Victor Fung, chairman of the ICC.

Dr. Fung is the first chairman from Hong Kong of the ICC, the largest, most representative business organization in the world with hundreds of thousands of member companies in over 130 countries spanning every sector of private enterprise.

“I think the Philippines is one of the economies in the region that has been relatively insulated from this tsunami. I am very impressed with the way the Philippine economy has functioned,” Dr. Fung said.

“So I think it (Philippines economy) is terrific, is one of the brightest spots in the whole region,” he added.

Although the Philippine exporting industry has been affected by the global recession, Fung said this would be temporary due to the uninterrupted remittances from Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and other robust businesses, such as the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.

The continuing reforms and policies have firmly put the Philippines on a path to stability and growth which, Fung said, has maintained the momentum in foreign investment.

“Obviously your exports have been somewhat affected but still going on very strongly. That is not a major part of your economy. I think that remittances have kept up and your BPO has really been developed very strongly due to the very good policies of the government that started a few years ago,” Fung said.

“In today’s environment it is absolutely essential that we maintain the flow of trade. Trade is the lifeblood of the international economy. In my capacity as chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) which is the voice of global business, I think the idea of making sure that we keep each other informed of our respective presence in keeping the global trading system open, it is very important,” Fung said.



OFW remittances hit record high of $16.4 billion
By Des Ferriols
February 17, 2009
Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Despite the global financial crisis, remittances from Filipinos working abroad beat expectations, rising by 13.7 percent to hit a record high of $16.4 billion in 2008 from a year ago level, the Bangko Sentral ng Pili-pinas (BSP) reported yesterday.

Last year’s remittances exceeded the central bank’s target of $16.3 billion.

For December alone, remittances hit $1.4 billion, an increase of 0.8 percent over the same period in 2007, the BSP said.

The major sources of remittances in 2008 were the United States, Saudi Arabia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Japan.

“Amidst the challenges posed by the global financial market strains and the economic downturn experienced by host economies, remittances from overseas Filipinos remain a dependable source of foreign exchange for the economy,” BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said.

He attributed the increase to sustained demand for Filipino workers abroad, particularly professionals and skilled workers.

Government figures show that Filipinos who went abroad to work in 2008 rose 27.8 percent to $1.376 million.

The central bank said it expects a contraction in the number of workers deployed to countries that are suffering from the global financial crisis but it added that there appeared to be strong demand for workers in countries such as Canada, Bulgaria, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

The Philippines is one of the world’s leading sources for skilled and unskilled workers with up to nine million people, about 10 percent of the population, living and working in 140 countries.

Their remittances have become a major pillar in supporting the economy contributing to about 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

The government has been promoting the deployment of more workers overseas as the world financial crisis sent exports plunging 40 percent in December.

Preliminary data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed that the number of Filipinos deployed abroad in 2008 rose considerably by 27.8 percent to 1,376,823 from 1,077,623 in 2007.



Philippines’ one of Asia’s bright spots
The Good Balita – www.goodnewspilipinas.com
February 16, 2009

The Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) said the Philippines remains one of the economies in the region insulated from the effects of the global economic downturn.

This was the observation of Dr. Victor Fung, chairman of the ICC.

Dr. Fung is the first chairman from Hong Kong of the ICC, the largest, most representative business organization in the world with hundreds of thousands of member companies in over 130 countries spanning every sector of private enterprise.

“I think the Philippines is one of the economies in the region that has been relatively insulated from this tsunami. I am very impressed with the way the Philippine economy has functioned,” Dr. Fung said.

“So I think it (Philippines economy) is terrific, is one of the brightest spots in the whole region,” he added.

Although the Philippine exporting industry has been affected by the global recession, Fung said this would be temporary due to the uninterrupted remittances from Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and other robust businesses, such as the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.

The continuing reforms and policies have firmly put the Philippines on a path to stability and growth which, Fung said, has maintained the momentum in foreign investment.

“Obviously your exports have been somewhat affected but still going on very strongly. That is not a major part of your economy. I think that remittances have kept up and your BPO has really been developed very strongly due to the very good policies of the government that started a few years ago,” Fung said.

“In today’s environment it is absolutely essential that we maintain the flow of trade. Trade is the lifeblood of the international economy. In my capacity as chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) which is the voice of global business, I think the idea of making sure that we keep each other informed of our respective presence in keeping the global trading system open, it is very important,” Fung said.



Global property site rates RP gem of an investment
The Good Balita – www.goodnewspilipinas.com
January 12, 2009

Property Wire, a premiere global property news service rated the Philippines a top investment destination in an article entitled “A gem of an investment in the Pearl of the Orient Seas” - The Philippines.”

Here is the full article written by Experience International.

For those purchasers keen to be ahead of the game, The Philippines is the latest market to burst onto the international property scene.

This Southeast Asian island country offers the attractive blend of a tropical climate, low cost of living, thriving economy and good accessibility and is proving to be a destination more popular than ever with a near 4% rise in tourist arrivals reported for Jan - Oct 2008 compared to the previous year (Central Bank of the Philippines).

Named after the 16th century King Philip II of Spain, The Philippines comprises over 7,000 separate islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It has a population of 90 million and although around 180 languages are spoken across the islands, the two official languages are Filipino and English. Philippine culture is a mix of pre-Hispanic Austronesian (Malayo Polynesian) civilisations, Hispanic and American culture, and to a lesser extent Chinese, Arab, and Indian cultures.

Following a period of martial law from 1972, the People Power Revolution of 1986 led the country back to the thriving democracy it is today. Turbulence in the late 1980’s gave way to stability and economic growth in the 1990’s. The Philippines is regarded as a newly industrialised country and now receives substantial contributions from manufacturing and mining sectors as well as remittances from overseas Filipinos. Tourism is hugely important as is, increasingly, outsourcing from international businesses. The Philippines has the potential to become one of the largest economies of the world in the 21st century according to Goldman Sachs’ ‘Next Eleven’ paper.

The Philippines also represents an exciting alternative to traditional property investments in the West, particularly given recent economic developments. According to a recent World Bank report, thanks to various fiscal and other reforms during the last several years The Philippines is in a good position to weather current difficulties. The report cited continued strong performance in private investments and construction, in addition to better than expected crop harvest yields. There was also higher manufacturing output and continued remittance from the 8 million Filipinos who work overseas.

Such economic resilience is likely to lure increasing international investment into the property market. Demand from Europe, the United States and Russia for city centre and resort properties has been brought about thanks to cheaper prices and the requirement from investors to shift their money into strong emerging markets. Savvier investors are looking for investments with the potential for high monthly rental yields and developments such as the Blue Coral Resort and Spa on Mactan Island, which is to be run as a managed resort hotel, increasingly seem a sound investment. Philippine hotel rates are on a par with the US or Europe, whilst entry level purchasing prices for freehold property are much lower. A deposit on a new fully furnished, five star apartment or villa for example can be as low as £2000.

Mactan Island, subject to much developer interest, is located in part of the central Philippine province of Cebu in the Bohol Strait. This beautiful coral island is surrounded by azure water with extensive mangrove forests and offers some of Asia’s best diving facilities and lush golf-courses. There are modern shopping centres, fine-dining restaurants and lively entertainment centres.

Thanks to the Mactan-Cebu International Airport and its proximity to Cebu, the area’s tourism industry has boomed significantly with the local economy feeling the positive effects. Recently, a further £4 million of investment in the airport has been announced, together with the planned addition of another terminal due to the increasing volume of passenger traffic.



60,000 OFWs hired last month
Philippine Star
http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?ArticleId=430282&publicationSubCategoryId=205
January 09, 2009

More than 60,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were hired in various countries abroad in the last month of 2008 despite the financial crisis, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) reported yesterday.

POEA chief Jennifer Manalili said OFWs filled at least 61,000 of the 450,000 existing overseas job vacancies abroad last December.

“We now have a current balance of 389,000 active job orders from the previous 450,000,” Manalili said, noting that the POEA posted a total of 650,563 new job orders from January to December 2008.

Manalili said the remaining job orders can be filled by qualified overseas Filipino workers this year.

According to Manalili, it takes time for the country to fill the job vacancies abroad, not due to a shortage of workers but because of the strict requirements in securing visas from the embassies of countries employing the OFWs.

Labor Secretary Marianito Roque has expressed confidence that the country’s overseas deployment last year could reach 1.3 million.

“We have already recorded over 1.2 million deployment as of November so if we will add those who left in December, the figure could hopefully hit a record high of 1.3 million,” Roque said.

Meanwhile, Philippine labor attaché to Kuwait Josephus Jimenez said the hiring of Filipino workers in the Arab country could reach as many as 70,000 this year even with the prevailing financial crisis.

“On the average, I approve 200 employment contracts daily so we could easily fill a minimum 12,000 job vacancies and even exceed 30,000 based on our current trend,” Jimenez pointed out.

Jimenez noted that Kuwait is a cash economy and therefore unlikely to be affected by the current financial crisis.

He added that Arab employers continue to prefer Filipino workers over other nationalities.

“Filipino workers are the highest paid professionals in Kuwait,” he said.

Jimenez said the government is also exerting efforts to veer away from so-called “five Ds” – dirty, difficult, dangerous, degrading, and deceptive – jobs being offered.

Of the 140,000 Filipinos currently employed in Kuwait, Jimenez said, 60,000 are domestic helpers.



BSP chief sees no ratings downgrade
Philippine Star
http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?ArticleId=430142&publicationSubCategoryId=66
By Des Ferriols
January 09, 2009

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said he does not expect an outlook or ratings downgrade this year despite the difficulties to be faced by the economy in the wake of the global slowdown.

Fitch Ratings earlier said it was retaining its “stable” outlook on the Philippines, while other countries have been put on negative watch because of the effects of the US financial crisis and the ensuing economic recession.

Tetangco expressed optimism that the same sentiment is likely to carry across to the other credit ratings agencies as they evaluate the country’s prospects this year.

“I think the Fitch move to keep our outlook stable is a general view among other rating agencies,” Tetangco said. “I think we’ll do okay as long as we keep on track.”

However, he added this would depend on government actions in the coming months and how regulators would be able to implement the economic stimulus plan.

“It all depends on how we will handle the challenges,” Tetangco said. According to him, the implementation of the economic stimulus plan would be critical to stable ratings, regardless of whether the government spends more than the 2009 prescribed budget or net.

There have been criticisms that the Arroyo administration’s P300-billion plan would not be enough since it has already been in the 2009 budget since before the crisis became into a full-blown meltdown.

But Tetangco said he was less concerned with the amount allocated by the government than with its capacity to actually implement the programs and spend the money.

“The important issue is for the money to be spent, it doesn’t matter if it is not new money,” Tetangco said. “It is the money that you are spending that would create economic activity and generate growth.”

London-based Fitch Ratings said earlier it was maintaining its stable outlook on the Philippines, saying that the country was “reasonably healthy” despite the tumult in the global economy.

Tetangco said Fitch’s decision indicates confidence on the country’s ability to weather the global slowdown, even a recession in its major trading partners.

A stable outlook means that the Philippines would stay at its current credit ratings until the next Fitch review.

Fitch managing director James McCormack singled out the Philippines, along with China and Indonesia, as the only countries that were not in Fitch Ratings’ negative watch.

Tetangco said Fitch’s action affirmed the view of moentary officials that the country’s strong external position would support its fundamental stability through the gloom of the global economic slowdown.

“The Philippines is still reasonably healthy, public finance is well-managed in the last couple of years,” McCormack said, adding that weaker growth in the region was not necessarily negative from a sovereign creditor’s perspective.



Foreign businessmen remain upbeat on RP
Philippine Star
http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?ArticleId=418591&publicationSubCategoryId=66

By Ma. Elisa P. Osorio Updated November 26, 2008

Foreign businessmen remain upbeat about the country’s economic situation saying that the Philippines will not enter into a recession next year and will even grow by three to five percent.

“The agriculture sector will be one of the pillars of the local economy next year together with the remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), business process outsourcing (BPO) and mining,” Robert Sears, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc. (AmCham) executive director told The Star in an interview.

According to Sears, there will be a slowdown in the economy as a result of the worldwide economic crunch but said the Philippines is somewhat protected.

 “The country is a bit insulated. Some sectors will be more affected like exports,” Sears said.

 ”There will be a slowdown but definitely not a recession,” he stressed.

 Sears said the Philippines has a number of growth areas that can be developed. “Mining is a bit sluggish now. The government should take a good look at this particular sector,” Sears said.

 Likewise, he said infrastructure spending can spur the economy and probably make up for the expected slowdown in foreign direct investments.

“Naturally, foreign investments will go down given the economic situation. There will be a constriction of capital because there will be less money from overseas,” Sears said.

 Aside from the slowdown in foreign investments, Sears said remittances from OFWs may also decline as some overseas workers would lose their jobs and return to the country.

However, he said contrary to what is being said by some economists, the BPO sector will continue to boom.

 “The BPO sector will grow because there is more pressure for firms in Europe and the United States to look for ways to cut down costs,” Sears said.



Stocks jump 6%; peso rallies
Philippine Daily Inquirer
http://business.inquirer.net/money/topstories/view/20081126-174396/Stocks-jump-6-peso-rallies
11/26/2008

By Elizabeth Sanchez-Lacson, Doris Dumlao

Stocks surged 6.0 percent Tuesday, mimicking a record rise on Wall Street overnight after the US government’s bailout of ailing financial giant Citigroup, a move widely seen as averting a collapse in the financial system, traders said.

The peso also rallied, to 49.455 to the dollar, as local and regional financial markets cheered the US government’s move.

The peso gained 0.375 from Monday’s closing rate of 49.83, with support also from foreign exchange remittances from overseas Filipinos ahead of the Christmas season.

“The US rescue of Citigroup was very good [for global markets] since it will prevent a financial collapse. Citi is bigger than Lehman,” Eagle Equities Inc. president Joseph Roxas noted.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index jumped 108.46 points to 1,908.18. The broader all-shares market also rose 4.27 percent, or 49.68 points, to 1,212.13.

Other stock markets rallied after Wall Street and European markets climbed Monday on news that the US government would take a $20-billion stake in Citigroup and guarantee hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Citi’s risky assets. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials surged 396.97 points, or 4.93 percent, to 8,443.39 on Monday.

“The signal it sent was that the US was not about to allow another Lehman [collapse] to happen and that they are committed to return the confidence in the financial industry,” said Conrado Bate, president of Citiseconline.com.

ATR Kim Eng Securities president Lorenzo Roxas added, “The bailout gave investors some comfort that the US is prepared to take bolder steps to prevent further downside risks to the financial system.”

The peso, which last week threatened to break past the 50-per-dollar psychological barrier, closed near its intraday high of 49.44 on Monday after hitting a low of 49.66.

The volume of trading on the currency spot market rose to $657 million from Monday’s $293.5 million.

Jonathan Ravelas, chief strategist at Banco de Oro Unibank, said the closing rate of 49.50 to the dollar suggested a near-term correction favoring the peso.

“Expect peso to test the 49.00-49.25 levels in the near term,” Ravelas said.

The trading range for this Wednesday is predicted at 49.30-49.60 to the dollar. With editing by INQUIRER.net




DBS more optimistic on Q3 than NEDA
Philippine Daily Inquirer
http://services.inquirer.net/print/print.php?article_id=20081126-174397
Nov. 26, 2008

Development Bank of Singapore is projecting that the Philippine economy grew by 4.7 percent year-on-year in the third quarter, faster than the 4.6 percent recorded in the second quarter—and higher than the 3.8-4.6 percent projected by the National Economic and Development Authority.
The government is expected to announce Thursday the economy’s growth rate for the third quarter.

DBS, which has an investment banking operation in the Philippines, said growth in the third quarter would be “beguilingly decent” because it would not be too long before the impact of the global slowdown would reflect itself much more on the Philippine economy.

It also said consumer spending would not be much of a driver of growth as it used to be because inflation, which is still high, would discourage households from spending on nonessentials.

Personal consumer spending is likely to grow 2.3 percent in the third quarter, it said.

That would be the slowest year-on-year growth in 17 years.

DBS said Philippine exports probably grew 3.4 percent in the third quarter and imports likely dropped 2.4 percent.

For the full year, it expects the economy to grow 4.7 percent. The government’s forecast is 4.1-4.8 percent.

For 2009, however, it sees the growth slowing down to 3.8 percent, as the Philippine economy feels the pinch of an impending global recession. Michelle V. Remo; edited by INQUIRER.net


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