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July 22, 2007

Arroyo's address likely to focus on economy
Philippine President Gloria Arroyo will be delivering her seventh State of the Nation address on Monday and she is expected to highlight the country's rosy economic performance.

Towards a more vibrant Philippine economy: this is likely to be President Arroyo's message as she delivers her seventh State of the Nation Address on July 23.

Ricardo Saludo, Secretary of the Cabinet, said: "Things are happening. Those who last year thought there will be no money for all the projects she outlined or who said that none of this will ever be done, will certainly be eating their words. They will see a lot of progress, a lot of projects being finished or soon to be finished, inaugurated and being used."

The President's speech could also highlight the tough fiscal reforms that her government initiated last year. That resulted in robust performances of both the peso and the stock market.

Mr Saludo said: "The president wants us to join the developed nations of the world and our region within 20 years. Now the ADB says that we need to grow 7 percent a year in order to do that. Now we are already, during the first quarter of this year, hitting 6.9 percent GDP growth, that's a good start. And hopefully we can continue to accelerate our growth which has been going up under the president. We have seen an average growth rate which is the fastest in the past 20 years compared to previous administrations."

Despite the string of economic gains that the country is experiencing right now, analysts say that the challenge now lies in translating these economic gains into tangible benefits for the people.

For families like that of Esmeralda Custodio, a single mother, little has changed since the Arroyo administration took over. With a meagre monthly income of eight US dollars, the single mother has a hard time coping with everyday needs.

Esmeralda Custodio said: "We cannot say that we are better off now. We feel that our lives have not changed. Prices keep going up including electricity which again increased this month."

So she will be listening closely when President Arroyo lays out her plans for her remaining three years. CNA

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