JULY 11, 2009
(STAR) By Marvin Sy - Despite numerous forecasts about the economy contracting this year, the government remains optimistic that the country will post positive, even if minimal, growth this year.

Malacañang saw the revision of the World Bank’s forecast for Philippine growth from 1.9 percent to a negative 0.5 percent as a challenge for the government to continue focusing on the economy to attain its targets.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the government continues to be optimistic and would show the World Bank that “we are right to have faith in our leadership and our people.”

“The recent downgrade of the World Bank’s forecast for our country to a slightly negative growth of 0.5 percent this year is a sobering reminder of where our priorities should lie,” Remonde said.

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya said that the Bank has every right to come up with its own projections but the government maintains that the economy would still grow this year.

“We still maintain our numbers,” Andaya said.

The government sees the economy growing by 0.8 percent to 1.8 percent this year.

This was already scaled down from the original target of 3.1 to 4.1 percent.

Andaya noted the World Bank, just like the other institutions that forecast a contraction for the Philippine economy this year, based their numbers on assumptions that were different from those the government is using.

One particular point cited by Andaya was the assumption made by the World Bank that remittances of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) would contract by four percent.

Based on data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, OFW remittances continued to grow in spite of the global economic slowdown.

For the month of April this year, OFW remittances grew by 2.2 percent, bringing the total for the first four months to $5.5 billion.

“What I’m saying is that we use different assumptions,” Andaya said.

He said the World Bank also saw personal consumption remaining weak for the rest of the year, but the government expects this to pick up soon.

Andaya admitted that consumption was down in the first quarter, as consumers remained wary about spending.

The government has done its part to boost consumption by disbursing most of its budget for infrastructure and social services in the first half of the year.

Andaya noted the disbursement rate of the Department of Budget and Management has reached 96 percent of available cash this year, compared to just 75 percent last year.

While public sector consumption does not count too much on the overall economy, Andaya said it was still an indication that there is an increase in spending.


Making a global difference BUSINESS CHIC By Johnny Litton Updated July 06, 2009 12:00 AM

With over four thousand beautiful and well-equipped hotels enviably scattered in eighty countries across the globe, Best Western International (BWI), the world’s largest hotel chain, recently held a successful appreciation dinner party to celebrate the start of its Asian domination of being the Largest Hotel Chain in the Philippines in 2012.

Led by its vice president for international operations Asia Glenn de Souza, director of operations Asia Johannes Jahns and Tajara Leisure president and BWI Philippine envoy Cyndy Tan Jarabata, the event drew the attention of the country’s A-listers who came in droves in spite of the inclement weather and their jet-lagged dispositions.

Aside from a raffle draw of vacation stays in Best Western Premier properties in the region, the country’s leading investors got to learn how Best Western operates in terms of its tried and tested sales and marketing professionalism promoting deserving hotels to a global scale.

The fun-filled night was capped off with a celebratory toast of BWI top honchos, undersecretary of Tourism Oscar Palabyab together with property owners in the Philippines. Everyone went home elated and awed by Best Western’s worldwide network. Congratulations!

Your Royal Thainess

Drawing on the enchanting Thai culture for inspiration, Dusit Thani Manila delivers a unique experience for its guests by using the gifts of heaven to create heaven on earth.

With regional vice president of Dusit International and president of Philippine Hoteliers Inc. Gerhard Kropp and general manager Prateek Kumar at the helm, expect the Thai heritage and its rich culture to become very evident in the general concept of its product and services. Sawasdee!

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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