ARROYO  TELLS  IPU  DELEGATES  RP  ECONOMY  STABLE

MANILA, April 5, 2005 (STAR) By Christina Mendez  -  The country’s fiscal situation is stable, President Arroyo told some 1,000 parliamentarians attending the 112th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) general assembly.

"Economically, the fiscal situation of the Philippines is stable, thanks to the hard work of our congressmen and senators. Exports are surging, imports are up, growth is up and the stock market is one of the best performing in Asia, she said in a speech during the formal opening of the IPU meet Sunday night at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Mrs. Arroyo gave this assessment even as she rushed Congress to pass the expanded value-added tax (VAT) measure. Members of the Senate wrapped up their interpellations and committee amendments as Congress formally adjourned its three-day special session Friday night.

The President has been seeking the passage of the bill in a bid to collect some P80 billion in fresh revenues to address the fiscal crisis, which economists warned would take place in two years unless fiscal and economic reforms are put in place.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said senators reached a consensus last Friday that the VAT rate would be retained at 10 percent, but they have yet to agree on individual amendments or put to a vote provisions lifting the VAT exemption on fuel and power once Congress resumes regular session on April 11.

During the opening of the IPU meet, Mrs. Arroyo also extolled the role of women parliamentarians and the female workforce in government in advancing economic reforms and development as well as in upholding democracy.

"Half of our government employees are women and tens of thousands of women occupy the ranks of elected officials in our towns and cities," she said. "Women are taking up the call of participation in democracy and economic self-reliance and gaining control over their economic lives." — With Jess Diaz, Marvin Sy, Cecille Suerte Felipe


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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