MANILA, June 24, 2005
 (STAR) Presidential Consultant for Investor Relations Corazon Guidote has said Thursday the raging political ruckus is destroying the country’s hard-earned economic gains and has put at risk the economic recovery and the improving plight of ordinary Filipinos.

"All these political noise will only serve to destroy the gains we have already made after a series of unprecedented reform measures that will finally address the core of our economic problems," Guidote noted.

In a statement, Guidote lamented that the new political storm came one year after the elections when the economy has started to gain momentum despite challenging domestic problems and the unprecedented increase in the prices of oil in the world market.

It is unfortunate, she said, that all these political exposes have come after the government "has already begun reducing its fiscal deficit, increasing its tax collections, and cracking down on tax evaders, corrupt officials in government and smugglers."

Guidote reminded the public that the country continues to have serious economic problems that need to be addressed amidst the continuing crude oil price increases in the world market.

"Our competitiveness in the global arena is being put at further risk. We cannot afford any more setbacks as we will all end up as losers in this game of political mudslinging, using the media, instead of the proper venue which are the courts to perpetrate their actions, all at the expense of the economy. We should not be distracted from our commitment to bring the economy back into focus," she stressed.

High oil price increasing imports, informs economic chief 06/24 3:17:29 PM

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo L. Neri Friday said import payments grew by 6.5 percent to 3.68 billion US dollars in April mainly because of higher crude oil prices in the world market that resulted in increase in imports of petroleum crude.

Dubai crude oil prices have risen 42.2 percent to 42.67 dollars per barrel from 30.01 dollars per barrel last year.

The country’s trade deficit, Neri said, still narrowed from 1.044 billion dollars last year to 328 million dollars year-to-date.

Data from the National Statistics Office (NSO) showed upsurge in the purchases of mineral fuels, lubricants, and related materials (69.7 percent), iron and steel (32.0 percent), cereals and cereal preparation (116.0 percent), and transport equipment (25.2 percent).

Imports of iron and steel grew as local construction remained upbeat particularly in the low and middle-income residential market. Imports of electronic products, however dipped by 5.8 percent due to reduction of trade in semiconductors (negative 3.2 percent).

Meanwhile, the country’s strong demand for rice (208.8 percent) drove the imports of consumer goods to surge. In April, the National Food Authority (NFA) has imported 271,541 metric tons of rice, mostly from Vietnam.

“This was done to augment local supply due to worries that insufficient rain might affect the main harvest in the fourth quarter,” Neri said.

Japan and US remained the country’s top sources of imports with a 17.2 percent and 14.4 percent share, respectively.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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