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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        27  June 2011

Aquino intends to spend Philippine budget

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The Aquino administration does not intend to end the year with a budget surplus as that would be bad for the country’s economy, according to the Philippine Department of Finance.

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima told reporters that the government is doing a lot of catching up in terms of public spending after it underspent during the first four months of the year. As a result of its under spending during the first four months of the year, the government posted a budget surplus of P61 million.

Purisima said the government is still aiming for a 7-percent to 8-perent growth in the country’s gross domestic product by yearend, adding that this remains the “aspirational target” whereas the 5 percent is the target for budgetary purposes.

“We will definitely catch up in terms of public spending. That is our desire and we have started doing that,” the finance chief said.

He said the initial improvement in public spending will be determined when fiscal authorities release the May data, which is due this week.

Purisima said the government could “easily” meet its budget deficit goal of P300 billion, or about 3.2 percent of GDP at end-December.

GDP is the amount of goods and services produced within the country, while the deficit-to-GDP ratio is a key measure of the sustainability of the government’s revenue shortfall.

“We are way ahead of the plan [as we booked P28 billion savings in interest expense], and thus we shall be well within the 3.2 percent of GDP in our deficit, which is based on the 5-percent economic growth target,” the official said.

“Attaining a surplus is not necessary, and probably not good for the country. We will implement our plan, which necessarily includes a deficit of 3.2 percent of the GDP,” he said.

The public-private partnership (PPP) scheme remains an important program for the Aquino administration as it would help the country drive up the economy despite apparent delays in its project implementation, the finance chief said.


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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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