, November 25, 2005
(STAR) President Gloria Macapagal–Arroyo commended the state workers Thursday for their support and proper implementation of her austerity measures that led to lower government spending during the third quarter of this year.

"I commend our officials and co-workers in government for the quiet crusade to cut wasteful spending which is shoring up overall fiscal stability and economic confidence," the President said in a statement.

Data released by the Department of Finance showed that lower expenses by the central government and state firms and more cash from public financial institutions and local governments brought down public sector spending by more than half to P74.6 billion for the third quarter.

The consolidated public sector fiscal deficit also went down as a percentage of economic output, at only 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) from close to 5 percent a year ago.

Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said the figure was cut by 90.3 billion pesos because of improved fiscal performance and sustained strong earnings of state pension funds.

The President urged state workers to continue on with their austerity measures so the budget deficit would be cut down further and the government can finally attain a balanced budget in 2008 instead of the 2010 target.

Balancing the budget is one of President Arroyo’s major goals under her 10-point pro-poor legacy agenda.

"This (savings from austerity measures) highlights good governance and will power at every level of the bureaucracy, and we must stay the course to help cut down our deficit beyond the projected targets," the President said.

"This valiant effort is well complemented by the fair tax measures that we are now implementing, and increased taxes levied by hardworking revenue workers," she added.

The implementation of the Attrition Act of 2005 or An Act to Improve the Revenue Collection Performance of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) through the Creation of a Rewards and Incentives Fund and of a Revenue Performance Evaluation Book and for other purposes (RA 9335) has moved revenue collecting agencies to work harder.

Both the BIR and BOC have posted increased revenue collections.

The recent implementation of the reformed Value Added Tax (EVAT) law has also brought back the confidence of international financial institutions on the Philippines which could attract more foreign investments that consequently would mean more jobs created.

The President reiterated that the country is well on its way to an economic takeoff as suggested by all vital economic indicators – stronger peso, lower interest rates, bullish stock market – which could lead to an upgrade in credit outlook.

"All our vital economic indicators are harmoniously sounding the beat towards economic takeoff…we have a clear road map towards the betterment of every Filipino and we should not lose sight of our lofty goals," she stressed.

Economists agree that sound fiscal management leads to a stronger peso, lower interest rates, higher share prices and upgrade in credit outlook.

Arroyo set to open 23rd SEA Games Sunday 11/25 3:20:44 PM

President Gloria Arroyo will officially open the 23rd Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) in colorful Sunday (Nov. 27) ceremonies at the Quirino Grandstand, Rizal Park, Manila.

The Philippines hosts this year’s edition of the biennial regional sports event to be participated in by athletes from 11 countries -- Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Earlier, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita expressed confidence the Philippines will have a fruitful campaign and bag the overall championship of the 23rd SEA Games.

Jose "Peping" Cojuangco, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president, and Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Philsoc) chairman, has predicted a gold rush for Filipino athletes in taekwondo, wushu, arnis and boxing.

Filipino athletes participating in the meet, the region’s biggest sports events, are now busy gearing up for the competitions in various venues, including Cebu, Bacolod, Subic, Tagaytay, Los Baños and Manila.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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