BSP READY TO FIGHT INFLATION - TETANGCO / REACHING DEFICIT HIGHLY UNLIKELY

BSP Gov. Amando Tetangco MANILA, APRIL 25, 2011 
(MALAYA BUSINESS INSIGHTS)
BY JIMMMY CALAPATI - Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Gov. Amando Tetangco yesterday said the central bank will take "further monetary actions" as needed to control inflation, which many economists believe will breach the target set by the government this year.

"We will continue to closely monitor developments and will implement any further monetary action as and when necessary to ensure that inflation is kept low and inflation expectations remain well-anchored," Tetangco said.

He said that risks to inflation remain.

BSPís policymaking body, the Monetary Board, during its last meeting last month, decided to raise the key rates of the BSP by 25 basis points on "signs of stronger and broadening inflation pressures."

Tetangco said that the boardís decision was based on signs that the countryís "headline and core inflation have started to rise."

"International food and oil prices have continued to escalate due to the combination of sustained strong global demand and supply disruptions and constraints," Tetangco said.

He added that the latest baseline inflation forecasts indicate that the 3-5 percent inflation target range in 2011 "could be at risk."

Inflation in March stood at 4.3 percent, the same rate recorded for February.

Given buoyant commodity prices, the central bank expects inflation to break above 5 percent in coming months before tapering off, with the average rate for 2011 expected to be at the top end of its 3-5 percent target range.

The central bank raised its key policy rate on March 24, its first increase since the global financial crisis, to combat rising prices, and analysts expect it could raise rates by another 25 basis points at its next review in May.

The central bank will review its policy on May 5, the same day April inflation data will be released. -- With Reuters

FROM MALAYA BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Govít April spending unlikely to catch up BY ANGELA LORRAINE CELIS MALAYA

MANILA - Forget about the governmentís announced "frontloading" of spending during the first quarter to perk up growth.

Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said last week the government is highly unlikely to reach its programmed deficit of P112 for the first quarter, adding "it does not matter that you cut spending as long as you spend on the right things.

Economists earlier expressed alarm when government posted a deficit of P8 billion during the first two months of the year, mainly because of under-spending, against a programmed P52.3 billion.

They said it defeats the frontloading program which seeks to take advantage of the dry season in undertaking infrastructure projects.

The official figures for the first quarter fiscal performance are due anytime but Beltran said the programmed deficit is unlikely to be reached.

"We only had a deficit of P8.1 billion for the first two months, and we havenít had a deficit of P100 billion in one month. Never, especially under this administration," Beltran said.

Beltran attributed the lower spending to greater transparency in the bidding process for government projects.

"You get the lowest prices for all government projects," Beltran said.

Programmed expenditure for the first quarter is P431 billion. The government was able to spend only P224 billion in the first two months.

The Department of Budget and Management earlier said it had released nearly 50 percent of the governmentís 2011 budget in the first quarter of the year or P800 billion of the P1.645 trillion full-year budget.

Latest data from the Bureau of Internal Revenue also confirms that the lower deficit is not due to significant increases in revenues.

The agencyís tax collections for the third quarter stood at P199.55 billion, not much over the target of P197.04 billion government cap, although much improved from P173.89 billion collected during the same period last year.

While the Customs Bureau has yet to release its first quarter performance, preliminary data showed that exceeded its P22.5 billion March target, with collections amounting to P23.673 billion.

The agency is tasked to collect P63 billion for the first quarter of the year.

Tourism driving investments to Northern Mindanao BY GENIVI FACTAO

[PHOTO SEAWORLD OF NORTHERN MIONDANAO]

Investments are pouring into Northern Mindanao as the region gains appeal as a global eco-tourism destination.

Tourism Undersecretary Maria Victoria V. Jasmin said among the main beneficiaries of the strong investment flow is the hotel sector.

"Cagayan de Oro is now a throbbing highly urbanized city, with the presence of new and upcoming hotels. Soon to be completed are the Limketkai and Atrium hotels and other projects of Ayala and local developers," she said during the Pasundayag Festival, which was held on April 14 to 19 at the SM Mall of Asia.

She added the arrivals will sharply increase when the Laguindingan international airport is completed.

Northern Mindanao, with its eight cities and five provinces, opened its doors to the world in the Pasundayag 2011.

The festival was a six-day exposition of Region 10ís tourist attractions, trade, fashion and culture.

It showcased the verdant province of Bukidnon with its colorful Kaamulan Festival and the Mt. Kitanglad National Park, an ideal site for bird watching; the rich culture of Lanao del Norte; the paradise island of Camiguin and the provinces of Misamis Occidental and Oriental.

The regionís cities Ė Gingoog, Iligan, Malaybalay, Ozamiz, Oroquieta, Tangub, Valencia and Cagayan de Oro Ė have a variety of colorful attractions and festivals.

The Department of Tourism said it will soon complete the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) after holding consultations in the regions.

After its completion, the different LGUs can embark on their own tourism framework plans to effectively deliver a complete and sustainable tourism development.

The local government units are encouraged to develop a complete tourism product that can be jump-started by good strategic planning.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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