(STAR) By Aurea Calica - President Arroyo expressed elation yesterday over the strong performance of the stock market, which climbed Monday to its highest level in more than nine years.

On Monday, the Philippine Stock Exchange Index (PSE) gained 8.11 points to close at 2,625.52, its highest close since Aug. 8, 1997. The index advanced 2.9 percent in the past three sessions after the government said third-quarter economic growth may have exceeded the 5.5-percent expansion reported for the previous three months.

Mrs. Arroyo said the stock market’s performance was the highest since the Asian financial crisis in 1997.

"Our fiscal condition is improving, we are reducing borrowing. All these are geared towards the uplifting of the ordinary citizens’ quality of life," Mrs. Arroyo said.

The President said she was bent on making every Filipino feel the economic gains of her administration through livelihood projects, jobs and better social services.

The Chief Executive has been saying the tough decisions of her administration such as the imposition of new taxes helped the Philippines achieve economic improvement.

The stock market’s impressive performance was boosted by strong demand for blue chips, Dow Jones’ record performance and hopes of better-than-expected third quarter economic performance.

"We just broke 2,600 and we’re now consolidating at a higher range," analysts said. "If we break away from this higher range, with the resistance seen at 2,632 points, we may see another major rally towards the 2,800-point level before the year ends. The possible triggers will be an interest rate cut by the Central Bank, the peso’s continued rally against the dollar due to strong remittances from Filipinos abroad during the Christmas holiday," they said.

Three publishing firms file complaint vs WB execs over P2.65-B grant The Philippine Star 10/25/2006

Three publishing firms have filed a complaint against three World Bank officials for awarding a P2.65-billion grant to a local publisher that they said "fraudulently cornered" contracts for the supply of textbooks and manuals to the Department of Education (DepEd).

Publishing firms Rex Bookstore Inc., Daehan Printing and Publishing Co., and Kolowel Trading alleged that bank officials Rekha Menon, Fadia Saadah, and Dominique Aumentado broke the bank’s own guidelines in awarding the grant to publishing giant Vibal Group of Bidders under a World Bank program, known as the Second Social Expenditure Project.

In their complaint filed at the World Bank’s Washington DC headquarters by their lawyer Harry Roque, the three publishing firms alleged that the Vibal Group "has fraudulently cornered a staggering 75.96 percent or P 2.65-billion pesos of the P3.5-billion budget for the SEMP2."

The grant was awarded in September despite attempts from the three publishing firms to block it.

The complaint came ahead of Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s exposé at the Senate on anomalies hounding the school textbook industry.

Lacson lamented that from 1999 to 2004, a single group of publishing companies that share common officers and stockholders has a virtual stranglehold on government contracts — over 75 percent — for the supply of schoolbooks.

The DepEd is asking for P2 billion for textbooks next year. "If the monopoly is not addressed, following the pattern, the Vibal Group stands to corner some P1.5 billion," Lacson said.

In their 20-page complaint filed with the World Bank’s Department of Institutional Integrity based in Washington DC last Sept. 8, Rex Bookstore and the two other publishing houses seek to block the release of World Bank funding to Vibal.

The Vibal Group of Bidders is made up of Vibal Publishing House Inc., SD Publications Inc., LG&M Corp., JTW Inc. with Watana Phanit Printing and Publishing Co. Ltd., and Alkem Co. as foreign partners.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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