Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Philippine growth uninterrupted for 36 quarters

President: Govt planning for better days ahead while preparing for worse of crisis

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said today that her administration is planning for better days ahead for the country, even as it battens down the ramparts should the global economic downturn turn from bad to worse.

“As an economist, I also know that things can turn quickly. That is why we are planning for better days – even as we are developing contingency plans if things get worse. We have worked fervently – even before the crisis took root – to cushion the blow to our people,” she told the country’s diplomatic community at the traditional Vin ‘d Honneur held this morning at the Rizal Hall of Malacanang.

She said that the Philippines has avoided the full impact of the economic fallout and kept the crisis at bay – “thanks to the fiscal, economic and structural reforms we implemented in the past – even while it was unpopular to do so.”

The President echoed the favorable assessments of Fitch ratings agency, Credit Suisse, Bank of New York Mellon, JP Morgan, and Standard and Poor’s, among others, of the country’s ability to surf through the worse of the global economic crisis.

In its latest assessment, Fitch said the Philippine economy remains “reasonably healthy”; Credit Suisse said the Philippine macroeconomic risk is lowest while the S&P described the country as an “island of relative calm amid the stormy seas of global economic uncertainty.”

“The Philippines is in a relatively strong position to weather the global downturn with the economy driven by private consumption and services, which are less vulnerable to external shocks,” the President said, quoting the recent analysis of the Bank of New York Mellon and JP Morgan.

She pointed out that “maintaining a strong growing economy” is of highest priority to her administration in order to eradicate the decades-long problem of poverty in the country and ensure that safety nets are in place for the most vulnerable sector – the poorest of the poor.

As a result of the successful implementation of the Arroyo administration’s financial reforms and sound fiscal management, the country has avoided the full brunt of the economic downturn to the Philippine economy.

“I assumed the Presidency in 2001 with no budget to spare. Our coffers were in the negative. Because of our financial reforms and sound fiscal management since 2001, our economy has posted uninterrupted growth over 36 quarters,” she said.

This uninterrupted growth has cut down the rate of poverty in the country and raised the annual average of new employment.

“With the revenues from the expanded value-added tax and alcohol and tobacco excise tax, we have been able to expand access to health-care as never before. Health insurance now covers 74 percent of the population, public hospitals are being upgraded, and the poor can buy their essential medicines at half the price of year 2000. Our social services now include a 10-billion-peso budget for targeted cash payments to the poorest of the poor, conditioned on their children going to school,” the President said.

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