, JANUARY 29, 2007 (STAR) By Paolo Romero - President Arroyo announced that Dubai World, one of the biggest conglomerates in the world, will put up a resort in the Philippines to take advantage of its booming tourism industry.

Its subsidiary, DP World, will also open up another port operation in Cebu on top of its current operations in Manila, a Palace statement said.

“Dubai World has come to the Philippines. They are coming to our ports. It is one of the biggest taxpayers in Manila,” Mrs. Arroyo said. She is scheduled to arrive this morning from Dubai where she met with various business leaders to seek investments.

In her speech before members of the Filipino community in Dubai, she stressed that the Philippines “is on a path to permanent economic growth and stability.”

She said investments are pouring in and the country has created seven million jobs in seven years. She also pointed out that the government has a surge in foreign reserves, an all-time high of $34 billion.

“And the Middle East is taking notice: the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Dubai World, Dubai Holdings, Emaar, the Qatari Investment Authority, and Noor of Kuwait believe the Philippines offers one of the best values in Asia for foreign investors and have told us that they will invest in our country,” Mrs. Arroyo said.

Dubai World’s hotel and leisure arm, Kerzner, will soon be joining other international resort and tourism investments like Marriott, Banyan Tree, Hyatt and Raffles of Singapore.

DP World, the terminal and port handling side of Dubai World, is already operating in Manila and is one of the biggest taxpayers of the city.

Trade Secretary Peter Favila said DP World will be sending its team to the country soon.

GMA expected to OK P75-B economic stimulus package By Paolo Romero Tuesday, January 29, 2008

 President Arroyo is set to approve a multibillion-peso emergency economic package which could result in a slight deficit this year.

Officials explained the package is aimed at balancing the budget to enable the country to weather the onset of the slowdown in the global economy.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, Mrs. Arroyo’s economic adviser, is going to brief the Cabinet on his proposed P75-billion “economic stimulus” package that would be funded through deficit spending.

Salceda said Mrs. Arroyo, who is scheduled to arrive this morning from an investment trip in Dubai, has already read his proposal on the “strategic response” to threats of US recession.

According to Salceda, the President did not pose any objection to his plan.

Salceda proposed a policy mix combining individual income tax reduction and electricity tariff rebates of P24 billion, and increased government spending of P51 billion for agriculture and social sectors.

With so much savings in the system and benefiting from remittances from overseas Filipino workers, Salceda said two-thirds of the stimulus package is geared towards increased spending to preserve growth momentum without wrecking the tax base for long-term growth.

Other officials, however, said Salceda’s proposal is still open to question before finance officials who are pushing for a balanced budget this year.

Salceda said “in the face of the rising threats of US recession... policy authorities need to reassess the timeliness of a balanced budget in 2008 as a socially desirable national goal.”

“The government’s fossilized fixation on balanced budget this year as embodied by the 2008 budget must be shaken by emerging market realities,” he said.

“It would be a big mistake not to vigorously consider changing the gears of fiscal strategy – calibrated downshifting – not necessarily its long term direction (of) strong fiscal capacity.”

Salceda added targeting a surplus in a period of global slowdown should be approached with caution.

Salceda explained a balanced budget in national government actually translates to surplus in the entire public sector of about P56 billion in 2007 that is way ahead of schedule.

According to Salceda, a deficit is not the single index of fiscal health. He likened a public debt to gross domestic product as “a companion indicator.”

The trade-off between fiscal balance and higher economic growth is not irreconcilable, he said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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