Sunday, 13 January 2013

FOCUS: The economy in 2013

The local stock market quickly recovered on Friday, January 11, after a hefty pullback as investors gobbled up bargain stocks.


THE year opened with a series of economic accomplishments, especially on the trading front, with the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) finally breaking the 6,000-point mark on Monday last week.

The PSEi posted that day a record high of 6,044.91, the first time the 6,000-point mark was surpassed in the 86-year history of stock trading in the country.

This is the Aquino administration’s fourth record high for 2013 and the 65th overall.

Holcim Philippines Chief Executive Officer Ed Sahagun foresees this year to be a good one for the country, saying: “This year’s good economic fundamentals—benign inflation, high foreign-exchange reserves and low interest rates—provide a good springboard for a rosy 2013 outlook.”

A factor that analysts point as having contributed to the Aquino administration’s good economic performance is healthy public spending. 

According to the Department of Budget and Management, the national government disbursed about P1.54 trillion in 2012, P200 billion more than the year before.

A substantial amount went to public infrastructure—roads, bridges and the like - driving construction, both public and private, close to or at the top of industries that grew in 2012.

Business- process outsourcing and tourism also grew and are expected to perform as well or better this year.

In tourism news, the Department of Foreign Affairs said luxury travel publication Conde Nast Traveller has included the Philippines among its Top 10 destinations for 2013.

The publication cited, in particular, opportunities for spectacular diving and island-hopping in Siargao, Bicol, Palawan, Pamalican Island and others.

From January to November 2012, 3.83 million visitors entered the country, compared to 3.5 million in the previous period.

The good news on the economic front has made more Filipinos optimistic about the future. 

The latest Social Weather Stations survey said nine out of 10 adults would “welcome the new year with hope, rather than fear.”

There is no reason we can’t expect a good year ahead of us, if we work hard together to sustain the momentum.

As President Aquino said in his New Year message: “Let us continue helping each other through bayanihan.  Hand in hand, let us tread the path toward a bright and rich future for our nation. I am one with you in hoping for a far better year for all of us.”

PCSO branch offices
IN line with the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office’s (PCSO) policy to expand core charity services nationwide, the agency is studying other possible areas where branch offices may be set up this year.

Recently, several PCSO officials and employees, myself included, visited the Bulacan Medical Center, where we were offered a space for a small office where medical-assistance requests can be accepted and processed. This would make the agency’s services more accessible to residents there.

In cooperation with another government agency, the Philippine Postal Corp., the PCSO will have the chance to open a branch in Baguio City, at the Philpost Building on Upper Session Road.

The last branch opened by the PCSO was in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, in November. This brings to 31 the number of PCSO service branches around the country: Isabela, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bulacan, Bataan, Cagayan and Zambales in Northern and Central Luzon; Rizal, Laguna, Batangas, Cavite, Quezon, CamNorte, CamSur, Sorsogon, Albay and Palawan in Southern Tagalog and Bicol; and Cebu, Iloilo, Leyte, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Davao, Zamboanga, South Cotabato, Bohol, Butuan, Samar and Bacolod in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Meanwhile, the latest beneficiaries of the PCSO’s Ambulance and Mobile Clinic Donation Program came to the PCSO’s main office in Pasay City on Friday to attend the turnover ceremony.

They are Santa Josefa, Agusan del Sur; Pura, Tarlac; Santa Maria, Laguna; Cabangan, Zambales; San Narciso, Zambales; Roxas District Hospital in Oriental Mindoro; and the University of the Philippines-Los BaƱos University Health Service.

Under the program, those classified as first- to third-class municipalities share 40% of the cost of the unit, while fourth- to sixth-class municipalities receive their units free.

The PCSO constantly strives to improve its delivery of core services, and in 2013 will be setting up more branches, pursuing ISO certification, continuing computerization of processes and performing other operational enhancements.

(Atty Rojas is general manager of the PCSO. E-mail:

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