PALACE  CITES  BALANCED  BUDGET,  CAREFUL  SPENDING  IN  CalPER'S  RATING

MANILA, FEBRUARY 15, 2007 (STAR) Malacañang on Thursday cited a balanced budget as well as careful spending behind the Philippines' highest rate of improvement among 27 emerging markets evaluated by the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS).

Under the CalPERS rating, the Philippines posted its "highest score with an average of 2.30 points, an improvement over last year’s 2.13. CalPERS, which has an investment portfolio valued at $200 billion, is the United States' biggest pension fund.

Press Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye said in a statement, "Infrastructure spending is a main driver of investor confidence in the same way that a balanced budget is. Both must be in the top rung of priorities."

"President Arroyo has struck a healthy balance among all aspects of the economy to maximize business and investor confidence, enhance credibility and accelerate the social payback to the people," Bunye said.

He noted that the long-term effect of the President's tough decisions is clearly evident in the stream of positive news on the economy.

Because of this, Bunye said, "CalPERS has raised the rating of the Philippines, making it a more desirable investment destination for CalPERS funds than China, India, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia."

"Spending on infrastructure and social services will spur growth in the countryside, stimulate and nurture grassroots enterprise and build wealth in the communities," he said.

He added, "More infrastructure arteries and more schools will connect farms to markets, bridge knowledge and unify the country."

"The good thing about the President’s program is that all of the above can be done while achieving a balanced budget in no time at all," he concluded.

From 14th place in 2006, the Philippines now ranks 10th on CalPERS Permissible Markets List, surpassing other ASEAN emerging markets" like Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia as well as China, India and Russia.

RP gets high marks from CalPERS By Paolo Romero The Philippine Star 02/15/2007

The Philippines posted the highest rate of improvement among 27 emerging markets evaluated by the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), the United States’ biggest pension fund, Malacañang announced yesterday.

In his memorandum to President Arroyo dated Feb.1, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo said CalPERS’ consulting firm, Wilshire Associates, provided the Department of Foreign Affairs with an advance copy of its report on the Philippines.

According to the memorandum, the Philippines posted its "highest score with an average of 2.30 points, an improvement over last year’s 2.13. From 14th place in 2006, the Philippines now ranks 10th on CalPERS Permissible Markets List, surpassing other ASEAN emerging markets" like Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia as well as China, India and Russia.

"In determining the viability of a country as a CalPERS investment destination, Wilshire Associates considered several factors, including overall political stability, labor practices, investor protection and capital market openness," Romulo said in his memo released yesterday to reporters by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

"The upgrade in the Philippines’ rating was driven mainly by improved scores in market factors," he said.

The CalPERS’ score measures a country’s viability as the pension fund’s investment destination and evaluates factors that include overall political stability, labor practices, investor protection and capital market openness.

He said the rating recognized the government’s significant strides in its economic reform agenda.

"This positive development is expected to encourage global fund managers to increase investments in the country as they take their cue from a global leader in the investment industry," Romulo said.

CalPERS has an investment portfolio valued at $200 billion.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye welcomed the CalPERS evaluation saying it was "an affirmation of policy and fiscal reforms undertaken by the government to create a sustained and positive investment environment in the country."

"The Philippine economy continues to make significant strides under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s leadership. This early on in 2007, we have already seen how our economy and the perceptions about it are improving significantly, with our equities market among the best performers in the region," he said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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