Thursday, 20 August 2009

RP generates US$6.2B from PGMA’s US visit

The Philippines generated at least US$6.2 billion in investments, trade, and aid from the recent US visit of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The amount, according to Malacañang, is higher than the total benefits generated in her combined foreign trips for 2007 and 2008.

In 2007, the President’s foreign trips generated US$873 million in investments, trade, and assistance, with the Middle East accounting for US$579.8 million and the European Union with US$185.4 million. Last year, foreign visits of President Arroyo generated US$399.9 million, the bulk coming from the United Arab Emirates with US$375.4 million.

Press Secretary Cerge M. Remonde cited the US$1 billion invested by US-based Coca-Cola Co. to expand its Philippine operations. Of the total, US$300 million has already entered the country.

Other benefits received by the Philippines from the recent US state visit are US$136 million in security and development aid, a US$350 million Millennium Challenge Corp. grant, US$1.6 billion involving the Generalized System of Preferences, US$198 million for the Filipino veterans’ equity fund, US$1 billion in estimated garment exports, and US$1.2 in estimated investments.

Since 1999, the Philippines has received US$429 million in military assistance from the United States. From 2001 to 2008, the country also received US$312 million from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) for Mindanao.

“Evidently, any of these numbers are well in excess of the P2.5 billion or about US$15 million that has been spent on both local and foreign travel by the President since 2001,” Remonde said.

He added that variants of actual versus budget numbers are not enough to conclude whether or not the Office of the President had overspent.

Remonde pointed out that as a working president, President Arroyo, continues her agenda to uplift the lives of the Filipinos.

He noted the Chief Executive has increased the conditional cash assistance to the poorest of the poor nationwide from P5.10 billion to P5.15 billion.

“This is an anti-hunger and pro-poor governance at work and not just symbolic or feel-good gestures,” he added.

Remonde pointed out the other recent accomplishments of the Arroyo government, including the disbursements of official development assistance (ODA) totalling US$825 million for the first half of the year, nearly double the number during the same period last year.

“This is welcome news for our development projects as well as for our external balances position. It also signifies improvement in our capacity to deploy funds for social services and economic stimulus,” he said.

He cited the US$8.5 billion remitted by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) for the first half of this year, an increase of nearly three percent from the same period last year.

Remonde said that according to Labor Secretary Marianito Roque, many companies are now starting to recall their workers laid off earlier.

“This recall of laid off workers is another sign of our economic resilience and recovery. Allow me to reiterate that this is the kind of progress in which our President’s empathy for our poorest countrymen should be measured,” he stressed. (PND)

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