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PIA Press Release
2006/10/03

Economists say inflation likely eased in September

Quezon City (3 October) -- INFLATION in the country likely eased for the sixth straight month in September on the back of a stronger peso and lower oil prices, economists said.

Economists polled by XFN-Asia said the consumer price index (CPI) in September probably rose by 5.7-6.2 percent year-on-year compared to the 6.3 percent rise recorded in August.

Banco de Oro market strategist Jonathan Ravelas projects inflation in September to come in at around 6.0-6.1 percent.

"Lower oil prices weighed on inflation and this was helped by the continued strengthening of the peso," he said.

The peso closed at 50.21 to the US dollar on Sept. 27, the last trading day for the month, from 50.80 at the end of August. It rallied to as high as 49.95 on Monday -- its strongest since May 2002 -- on the back of continued strong remittances from Filipinos abroad.

Singapore-based economist Song Seng Wun of CIMB-GK Research is looking at a September CPI rise of 6.2 percent, the same rate projected by DBS Bank's research group.

University of Asia and the Pacific economist Victor Abola sees inflation in September easing to 6.0 percent, while ATR Kim Eng Securities research head Luz Lorenzo sees an even lower figure of 5.7 percent.

"Oil prices are going down and are coming from a high base in the previous year as pump level increases last month were lower," said Abola.

Abola said that except for the last week of September when typhoon Xangsane devastated parts of Luzon and the Visayas, favorable weather prevailed during the month, which ensured enough supply and stable prices of major food staples.

The continuing appreciation of the peso has also had a positive impact on inflation, said Abola.

"I don't really believe prices of imported commodities have gone down last month, but the rise was offset by the strong peso. The effect will be reflected on utilities that have currency exchange rate adjustment components like water, electricity and telephone. That's why inflation will be lower," Abola said.

"Oil prices are going down; that's it, mainly," said Lorenzo, adding that inflation could even slow further to 5.4 percent in October.

David Cohen, director of Asian economic forecasting at Action Economics in Singapore, sees September inflation settling at a moderate 6.2 percent.

"Our forecast is in line with consensus and the central bank's projections, with a stronger peso and declining oil prices helping to ease inflationary pressure on the supply side," DBS Bank said in a note.

Central bank governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said Monday that annual inflation in September likely eased to as low as 5.7 percent, given lower domestic oil and food prices and a stronger peso. The central bank's September inflation forecast ranges from 5.7 to 6.4 percent.

The National Statistics Office will release the September inflation data on Thursday.

Gov't Infrastructure Forum seen to further improve govít relations with business sector

Quezon City (3 October) -- The business sector has expressed its support for the governmentís infrastructure development, an important group of projects that would make a sturdy foundation for the super regions in terms of competitive advantage and economic development.

To formally present the project before the business sector, a Government Infrastructure Forum will be held at the Dusit Hotel Nikko, in Makati City, on October 4. Another objective of the forum is to open possible avenues of collaboration in order to fast-track the implementation of development initiatives outlined by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her recent State of the Nation Address (SONA). In addition, this encourages active participation of the business sector in the completion of these major development projects.

The forum will be hosted and participated in by several major business organizations, namely: American Chamber of Commerce; Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce; Bankers Association of the Philippines; Bishops-Businessmenís Conference; British Chamber of Commerce; Canadian Chamber of Commerce; Chamber of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Industries of Northern Mindanao; European Chamber of Commerce; Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines; Makati Business Club; Management Association of the Philippines; Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI); Philippine Exporters Confederation; and Sta. Rosa City Business Club.

This forum is spearheaded by Presidential Management Staff (PMS) Director General and head of the governmentís Infrastructure Monitoring Task Force, Secretary Arthur C. Yap. He said that in order to ensure that the government is sending a strong signal to the business community, all the Super Region Development Champions would be making presentations. These are Subic-Clark Alliance Development Corporation Head Edgardo Pamintuan for the Luzon Urban Beltway, Tourism Secretary Joseph ďAceĒ Durano for Central Philippines, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza for Mindanao, Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) Chairman Ramon Sales for the Cyberservices Corridor, and Secretary Arthur C. Yap, himself, for the North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle (NLAQ).

Specific projects will be discussed by the heads of the implementing agencies, namely: Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) Secretary Leandro Mendoza; Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr,; Department of Energy (DoE) Secretary Raphael Lotilla; and National Irrigation Administrator Arturo Lomibao.

On the other hand, strategic directions, revenue generation, and financing strategies would be discussed by Economic Secretary Romula Neri, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, Budget and Management Secretary Rolando Andaya, and Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila.

Under Executive Order No. 553, issued on August 1, 2006, President Arroyo highlighted the partnership between the government and the business sector when she created the Infrastructure Monitoring Task Force composed of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the PMS, DPWH, DoTC, DoE, Export Development Council (EDC), and the PCCI. (PIA) [top]

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