(STAR) Canada’s Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, Stockwell Day, who was in the Philippines recently to commemorate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two nations, commended Sun Life Financial-Philippines for continuing to spur business growth and consistently showing great concern for the Filipinos through its various corporate social responsibility efforts.

Day noted Sun Life’s 114 years of operations in the country and its consistent progress despite the global economic downturn. He also lauded the company’s support for the ‘green’ campaign highlighted by the construction of a LEED-compliant building at the Fort. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

To mark an auspicious beginning for the Sun Life building, Day, accompanied by Canadian Ambassador Robert Desjardins, officials from the Embassy of Canada in the Philippines, and executives from Sun Life led a ceremonial tree planting activity last November 13 right at the building site. Minister Day proceeded to plant a mahogany tree, a hardwood tree known for its firmness, strength and resilience.

For her part, Sun Life Philippines president & CEO Rizalina Mantaring expressed her gratitude and appreciation to Trade Minister Day for his confidence and trust in Sun Life Philippines.

“It is this support and trust from the government of Canada and our parent company in Toronto that truly inspire us to pursue our mission of providing financial freedom for every Filipino,” Mantaring said.

Mantaring also noted that the Sun Life building which will soon rise at the Fort signifies Sun Life’s commitment to further grow its business in the Philippines.

Inflation hits 6-month high of 2.8% in November By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) Updated December 05, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Consumer prices jumped to a six-month high in November, hitting 2.8 percent due to higher food prices brought about by the damages caused by “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” as well as rising oil prices, the National Statistics Office (NSO) reported yesterday.

The core inflation rate, which strips out volatile food and energy items, remained unchanged at 2.7 percent from the previous month.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said inflation last month was well within the central bank’s forecast of 2.4 percent to 3.3 percent.

Last month’s inflation was lower than the 9.9 percent registered in November last year and was the highest in six- months since inflation averaged at 1.5 percent in June.

Inflation steadily dropped to a 20-year low of 0.1 percent in August before climbing for the third straight month to a six month high of 2.8 percent in November.

The BSP said the uptick in inflation was mainly due to the increase in inflation rates of specific food items including fruits, vegetables, rice, and meat after the supply were affected adversely by the recent calamities.

“The supply of these food items was affected adversely by the recent weather disturbances that visited the country,” Tetangco said.

The BSP, meanwhile, said the rate was likely to range from 2.4 percent to 3.3 percent.

The BSP has set a target inflation of 2.5 percent to 4.5 percent this year and 3.5 percent to 5.5 percent in 2010, under its inflation targeting model for monetary policy.

But it expects actual average inflation to come in at 3.28 percent this year and 4.02 percent in 2010, slightly above earlier estimates, mainly due to high oil prices and crop damages from recent typhoons.

The BSP has cut the key overnight borrowing rate to a record low of four percent in July, and has kept it there since.

Tetangco has said that they could keep the bank’s accommodative monetary policy stance after the economy grew slower than expected in the third quarter at 0.8 percent.

The BSP’s next policy meeting is on Dec. 17, its last for the year. Analysts are expecting the first rate hike to come in the second quarter of 2010.

Data from the National Statistics Office (NSO) showed that the annual inflation for food, beverage, and tobacco climbed to 4.8 percent in November from 3.7 percent in October. Annual inflation rate for food alone at the national level rose to 4.9 percent from 3.8 percent.

The index of fruits and vegetables posted a double-digit inflation figure of 13.7 percent in November from 9.6 percent in October. In addition, annual price gains were also higher in the index for rice at 3.2 percent from 0.8 percent; corn, 0.1 percent from -0.1 percent; eggs, 6.1 percent from 5.8 percent; meat, 5.9 percent from 4.5 percent; and miscellaneous foods, 3.1 percent from 2.8 percent.

Annual inflation for clothing, housing and repairs as well as miscellaneous items however eased to two percent from 2.1 percent while negative annual rates were still seen in the indexes of fuel, light, and water with -3.6 percent, and services with -2.2 percent.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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