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PIA Press Release

CV economic performance increases despite slow aggie sector

by Rey Anthony Chiu

Tagbilaran City (3 April) -- DESPITE a downed agriculture sector, Central Visayas generally improved its economic performance in the third quarter of 2006 with tourism, retail trade, construction, banking and air transportation gaining higher, reported National Economic Development Authority's of Region 7, Ma. Teresa Alambra at the recent Regional Development full Council meeting held here last week.

In the first nine months of the year, the region realized an 11.1% increase in tourist arrivals as domestic travel raised by 7.7% while foreign tourists arrivals posted 18.5 %. NEDA 7 posited that the increase could also be triggered by the Association of South East Asian Nation (ASEAN) related conventions, NEDA authorities noted.

In the region, economists indicated the growth in public and private sector construction, possibly in preparation for the ASEAN.

Construction in relation to the raised demands contributed to the growing retail trade as shown by increased consumer purchases, and a similar good performance by the air transportation sector could also be seen as the increase in number of flights at 4.5% and passengers at 10.7% as opposed to the dismal performance of the shipping industries.

The positive showing in fact, could have been much higher had agriculture performed as expected, except for crops which alone survived to hand the not so bad regional economic performance, NEDA said.

According to NEDA-7 analysts, the total region's export earnings from January to August grew only by 5.0%. This was way down below the double digits of last year, the continued appreciation of the peso could have rendered the region's export less competitive.

Reacting to the developments, the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is agog and even optimistic that the country's credit rating will improve this year due to improvements in the debt-to-GDP ratios with the spectacular peso performance.

As the government consolidates its debts and cuts on borrowings, it expects debts to go down to 58% of total economic output this year from 65% last year. It further aims to reduce the ratio to 52% next year, 46% in 2009 and 41% in 2010.

Foreign ratings companies are now expected to improve the country's outlook to positive in the second half of the year from stable at present.

Over this, Credit Suisse expects the government's budget deficit program to be low enough to reduce the country's debt-to-GDP ratio rapidly and so that the government could push for more measures, including the rationalization of tax incentives and indexation of taxes to support the debt-reduction program. (PIA) [top]

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