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PHL gets third ratings upgrade

Close on the heels of the investment-grade ratings received from Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s (S&P) comes yet another one, the third for the country, from Japan Credit Rating Agency Ltd. (JCRA).

On May 7 JCRA bestowed a “BBB” grade from “BBB-” with a “stable” outlook, citing factors such as projected 6-percent growth in the medium-term stemming from strong domestic demand and government commitment to hold the fiscal deficit-to-GDP (gross domestic product) ratio within its 2-percent target from 2013 onward.

The JCRA also mentioned as plus factors the higher taxes on alcohol and tobacco, increased tax collection efficiency, overseas foreign workers’ remittances and revenues from business-process outsourcing ventures. Its report advised that in order to improve the country’s business and investment climate, infrastructure challenges need to be addressed, external risks managed and the financial sector diversified.

Japan is one of the Philippines’s strongest partners and provides much development assistance through grants and loans, mostly through its Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The agency lent the country $2.738 billion in 2011, making up 31.8 percent of the Philippines’s total official development assistance (ODA) loan portfolio, from a total of nearly $8.6 billion in ODA loans that year.

Here’s more good news from international analysts: The peso is one of the world’s best-performing currencies, said S&P’s report on its investment-grade rating of the Philippines over two weeks ago. The report added that the peso ranks third globally, appreciating in real terms from March 2007 to March 2013 by 25 percent. The top two rankers are the Chinese renminbi and the Singapore dollar.

Showing that economic growth in Asia is outpacing the rest of the world, S&P said, “No single member of the 27-member European Union and only one of the 34-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is among the top 10 most appreciated currencies.”

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said the peso strengthened 6.8 percent against the US dollar last year. Amid concerns on how the peso’s appreciation will have an impact on the value of remittances from overseas Filipino workers and on  dollar export earnings, the BSP gave assurances that it has implemented measures to manage the capital inflows that cause the peso’s robust performance.

Rounding up the sunny economic news, the local stock market posted  an overall uptick last week, boosted by the latest ratings upgrade and also by the strong performance of the Dow Jones.

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The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) will be selling lotto and other PCSO game tickets today, Election Day.  All game draws will also proceed as regularly scheduled.

Yesterday, PCSO held the televised draw of the traditional Sweepstakes “Mayflower Festival” with a top prize of P1.5 million. Traditional draws are held once or twice a year, sometimes for the benefit of a specific cause in cooperation with charitable organizations.

Also, starting May 17, bigger prizes await lotto winners as the jackpot prizes for Lotto 6/42 and MegaLotto 6/45 games will be doubled. The minimum winnings for the Lotto 6/42 will be increased from P3,000,000 to P6,000,000 and P4,500,000 to P9,000,000 for MegaLotto 6/45.

In line with this, the price per combination will also increase from P10 to P20 per combination.

A new prize and dividend structure for other games such as the Grand Lotto 6/55 and Super Lotto 6/49 will be also introduced in the following weeks.

These changes aim to increase revenues for the PCSO Charity Fund to extend the reach of PCSO’s assistance and to better serve Filipinos nationwide.

PCSO is the government’s main arm for raising and providing funds for health programs, medical assistance and services and charities of national character.

Its revenues are generated primarily from the sale of lotto and game tickets.  By law, revenue is allocated as follows: 55 percent to the prize fund, 15 percent to agency operations and 30 percent to the charity fund, which allows the sustainability of PCSO’s social programs.

Among PCSO’s many initiatives under the Aquino administration is the opening of new branches.

On May 3 PCSO Chairman Margarita P. Juico, along with other PCSO officials, inaugurated a new PCSO branch in Benguet. Juico said the office, located at the Post Office Loop, Upper Session Road, Baguio City, “will serve as the charity haven for the people of the Cordilleras and shows PCSO’s commitment to extend the reach of our assistance, especially to those in remote areas.”

A branch in Surigao del Norte was opened earlier this year, bringing to 33 the total number of PCSO branches.

We thank the public for their warm and continuing support of PCSO games, which contribute to revenues for the Charity Fund. In order to augment revenues, we will be rolling out new games in the near future.

 

Atty. Rojas is general manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

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