PH is 'Asia's rising star', says global think tank Created on April 26, 2013, 2:39 pm Posted by nup

The Philippines has been hailed as "Asia's rising star" by a global think tank, as it noted that it expects the country to grow faster than most of the world this year and in 2014.

Stellar economic expansion made the Philippines "among the brightest parts of a generally gloomy global picture," Moody’s Analytics said in a report released Wednesday.

The country's gross domestic product topped expectations by growing 6.6 percent in 2012, a result Moody's Analytics said "looks sustainable, as risks are low and most sectors of the economy are growing solidly."

"We expect GDP growth to remain in the 6.5 to 7-percent range in 2013 and 2014, making the Philippines one of the world's fastest-growing economies," the report noted.

The forecasts hew to the government target of 6-7 percent in 2013 and 6.5-7.5 percent next year.

Moody's Analytics is a sister company of global debt watcher Moody's Investor Service, which places the Philippines a notch below investment grade with a Ba1 rating.

The Philippines last month bagged its first-ever investment grade in history from credit watchdog Fitch Ratings, which also lauded growth amid a global slowdown.

Moody's Analytics linked the Philippine's performance to "good governance" which it said is "far and away the most important driver of growth in emerging markets."

It also lauded President Benigno Aquino III for implementing much-needed reforms and for continuing those initiated during the Arroyo administration.

"The government's 2011-2016 development plan provides a five-year blueprint for growth and development, providing transparency, predictability and accountability," the report said.

"The crackdown on corruption and encouragement of local and foreign investments, in particular, have worked well," it added.

Operational risks have however been cited in terms of private investment, with Moody's Analytics underlining "complicated and changeable" regulations and taxes.

It also noted the need to "ease restrictions on foreign ownership and streamline rules for starting businesses, paying taxes and dealing with workers" in order to attract more foreign capital.

"Some low-hanging policy fruits have already been picked, but if development and reform continue near their current pace, the Philippines’ potential rate for growth will rise towards 8 percent by 2016," it added.

Comelec to bets: Bare survey expenses Created on April 25, 2013, 2:37 pm Posted by nup

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday urged candidates to disclose all pre-election surveys they paid for to verify the financial declarations of pollsters.

Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim said the poll body hopes to verify the disclosures of survey companies on their subscribers through the reports from candidates.

“Not only is the fact of filing sufficient.  Now we want to check if the declarations are accurate,” Lim noted.

Lim said candidates should not hide their expenses for surveys since pollsters will report the information to the Comelec. The poll body has taken an interest in surveys as it noted that these do not come cheap.

Last Tuesday, the Comelec ordered the Social Weather Stations (SWS), Pulse Asia and other survey companies to disclose their subscribers to determine if candidates are spending beyond their campaign limits.

ASEAN makes progress on trade, not on sea disputes Created on April 25, 2013, 2:36 pm Posted by nup

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei  — Southeast Asian leaders have made progress on an ambitious plan to weld their region into a European Union-style community as a counterweight to Asian powerhouse China. There's less optimism about a nonaggression pact for the South China Sea.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders had hoped China would agree soon to talk about the disputed waters. But China has given no clear indication when it would agree to negotiate. The summit ends later Thursday.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III told reporters, "Everybody is interested in having a peaceful resolution."

Diplomats said ASEAN was on track to meet its deadline on becoming an economic bloc of more than 600 million people by the end of 2015. A confidential draft document says work is about 77 percent done.

Teachers to get P4,000 poll pay Created on April 24, 2013, 6:31 am Posted by nup

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Philippines – Teachers tasked to serve in the May 13 elections will each receive P4,000 poll duty pay and be covered by the P30-million accident or life insurance provided by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The poll duty pay consists of P3,000 honorarium, P500 transportation allowance, and another P500 for testing and sealing the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

This year’s poll duty pay is P300 less than what was given to teachers in the 2010 elections.

ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio told The STAR yesterday that “while the teachers received P4,300 each in the 2010 polls, they are to receive a total of only P4,000 for their services in the May polls because of the removal of the sealing of book of voters as part of their duty.”

But their transportation allowance was increased from P300 to P500, for a total of P4,000.

Tinio said that teachers earlier asked the Comelec to increase their honorarium from P3,000 to P5,000, but it was not granted in the memorandum of agreement signed recently by the poll body and the Department of Education.

‘Reject NPA poll demands’ Created on April 24, 2013, 5:26 am Posted by nup

MANILA, Philippines - Candidates in the coming elections should not give in to the demands of the New People’s Army (NPA) and pay for “permit to campaign” in areas where communist guerillas operate, Malacañang said yesterday.

“We have consistently asked local candidates to not succumb to these demands and to report any of these requests for payment to the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) so the proper response can be made in those particular areas,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.

While the government cannot guarantee absolute protection for candidates, the public may help by reporting to authorities suspicious goings-on, particularly in areas where rebels are known to operate, Valte said.

Her advice came in the wake of an attack on the convoy of Gingoog Mayor Ruth Guingona in a remote village in Misamis Oriental late Saturday at a checkpoint set up by guerillas.

Killed in the ambush were two of her bodyguards. Guingona was wounded in the ambush along with two other aides.

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