MANILA, March 18, 2006
 (BULLETIN) By DITAS LOPEZ - The Philippine government will hold investor meetings in the US and Europe next month to draw attention to the country’s improved economic and fiscal situation, a finance ministry official said Thursday.

The official, who is involved in the planned nondeal roadshow, told Dow Jones Newswires that the government won’t be marketing a global bond during the visit.

The roadshow will be held in London April 5-8 and in New York April 911.

UBS will coordinate the European leg of the trip, while Citigroup will organize the US meeting, the official said.

The roadshow provides a venue for the government to present developments on the fiscal and economic fronts. But it remains to be seen whether it will be a prelude to the sovereign’s next foray into international bond markets.

The Philippine government, one of the most prolific Asian issuers of USdollar bonds, raised .5 billion in 25-year bonds and EUR500 million in 10year bonds in January. It still needs to raise another 0 million to complete its planned borrowing of .1 billion from foreign commercial sources for the whole of 2006.

Last year, it raised .25 billion through three international bond sales.

On top of the central government’s requirements, state-owned National Power Corp. (NAP.YY), the Philippines’ main electricity producer, plans to raise at least 0 million for its financing need for this year.

The government held a non-deal roadshow in Japan in February.

Key officials on the US and European visit, to be led by Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, will update investors on the latest developments, including the full implementation of the expanded value added tax — the biggest revenuegenerating measure in a package of fiscal reforms intended to reduce the government’s budget deficit.

The government broadened the coverage of the VAT Nov. 1, and then raised the VAT rate to 12 percent Feb. 1 from 10 percent. The VAT reforms and other fiscal moves are expected to help the government narrow the budget deficit to a target P125 billion, or 2.1 percent of gross domestic product, this year. The government hopes to eventually balance the budget as early as 2008.

Ratings agencies Standard & Poor’s Corp. and Fitch Ratings revised their outlook on the country’s credit ratings to stable from negative following the VAT rate hike. S&P rates the Philippines BB- and Fitch BB.

But Moody’s Investors Service Inc. kept its negative outlook in place and said more reform is needed to bring down very high public-sector debt to a level that would prompt a change in outlook on the government’s B1 rating. (Dow Jones)

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved