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August 1, 2007

Govt upbeat on growth, H2 fiscal performance
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo joined a chorus of Philippine officials in talking up the country's economic and fiscal outlook on August 1, following reports tax revenues have picked up after a poor first half, Reuters reported.

After riding a wave of positive investor sentiment in the first half of the year, the Philippines is anxious to avoid any slippage in its budget this year.

The Southeast Asian country missed its first-half shortfall target by nearly a third due to weak tax revenue but it insists it will meet its full-year deficit goal of 63 billion pesos ($1.38 billion) by speeding up state asset sales.

"I expect collections to be back on track in the second half. We have taken steps to address the shortfall," Arroyo said. The government replaced the head of the main tax agency, the Bureau of Internal Revenue, in June and has promised to pursue tax evaders aggressively.

Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said the fiscal picture looked good in July, with regional tax offices and units monitoring large taxpayers on track to meet third quarter goals. "The prospects seem to be favourable in terms of our ability to meet the target," Teves said, referring to the government's internal goal of a tax revenue of 78.5 billion pesos for July.

The Bureau of Customs, which accounts for around a fifth of government revenue, said it had beaten its July collection target of nearly 20 billion pesos by 1 billion.

Based on an internal programme, the government was targeting a budget deficit of 20.9 billion pesos in July. An anticipated surplus in August should help keep the shortfall for the whole of the third quarter capped at 22.69 billion. Reuters


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