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PIA Press Release

RP could be next India in ability to surprise

Cagayan de Oro City (11 September) -- "The Philippines could be the next India in terms of its ability to surprise" says Adrian Mowat, a stock strategist at J.P. Morgan Securities Ltd. In Hongkong.

He said, not long ago, Fort Bonifacio, a sprawling old military base in the heart of Manila, was an emblem of economic malaise-a stalled redevelopment taken over by cyclists, skateboarders and kit enthusiasts.

Today, office towers, embassy buildings and shopping malls are going up in the area. Nike Inc., Starbucks Corp. and Nokia Corp. have opened stores and the Manila Stock Exchange will be joining them soon.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the country's 60-year old President, gets much of the credit for the turnaround, said James Hookway in his article 'For Philippine Economy, Harsh Remedies Pay Off: A risky Tax Increase by Arroyo Helps Spur New Investments,' in the August 31, 2007 issue of the Wall Street Journal Asia.

Two years ago, with thousands of street protestors threatening to oust her and the country drifting toward a financial crisis, she pushed a higher sales tax through Congress and signed it into law over the objections of her advisers.

"The move raised the tax to 12% from 10% and expanded it to a range of new products and services, including gasoline," Hookway said.

That politically risky step showed investors the nation was serious about putting its house in order after years of half-hearted attempts to cut its budget deficit, crack down on corruption and do something about its decaying ports and power grid.

Meanwhile, the J.P Morgan report in May predicted that the Philippines could have a balanced budget by next year and a budget surplus by 2009.

"I knew the risks, but I decided that if we had to bite the bullet, then that's what we would do," Hookway quoted Mrs. Arroyo in a recent interview. (PIA 10) [top]

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