10 September 2015

APEC News Release

President Aquino extols tourism-public works convergence program
(SAMAL ISLAND, Davao del Norte) President Benigno S. Aquino III lauded the ‘convergence program’ of the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which generated a number of infrastructure projects spread across 15 regions.

President Aquino reported in a speech here Wednesday that this joint venture by DOT and DPWH has so far produced 463 tourism roads in 75 out of the country’s 81 provinces.

“Malaking ambag po ito sa paglago ng ating lokal at pambansang ekonomiya,” President Aquino said, noting the significance of having a vibrant tourism industry given its ‘multiplier effect’ to the economy.

The Island Garden City of Samal circumferential road here that the President Aquino inspected during this visit Wednesday, is among the many projects co-funded by DOT and DPWH.

Once this road becomes fully operational, President Aquino said, it would further ease traveling for tourists who are looking forward to do various water activities and nature tripping in the island’s famous tourist spots, leading to more economic opportunities for the people of Davao.

“Tiyak po, kapag napapakinabangan na nang buo ang kalsadang ito, higit pang makukumbinsi ang marami na talagang ‘it’s more fun in the Philippines,’ lalo na dito sa inyo sa Davao,” he said.

With the success of the program, President Aquino proposed an additional P24-billion to the budget of the DPWH to complete other tourism road projects in the pipeline by 2016.

The government has so far allocated a total of P60.48-billion pesos for the Tourism Road Infrastructure Program of DOT and DPWH from 2011 to 2015.

In Davao del Norte alone, over P9-billion was spent by the government for the improvement of its roads, bridges, farm-to-market roads, ports, irrigation, and flood control projects, President Aquino said.

These developments, especially in the accessibility of the country’s tourism gateways, helped encourage more domestic travelers from the DOT’s initial target of 37.5 million in 2011 to 51.7 million in 2015.

In terms of international tourist arrivals, the average annual rate also increased by 8.3 percent from 2010 to 2014, which is 6.7 percent higher compared to the figures from 2001 to 2009.

“Malinaw po na kongkretong patunay ang ating DOT-DPWH Convergence Program sa transpormasyong hatid ng Daang Matuwid, pati na ang mga sektor na alam nating kapaki-pakinabang sa taumbayan,” President Aquino said.

President Aquino was in Mindanao to check on the government’s ongoing projects aimed at bolstering infrastructures to reinforce the country’s tourism industry.

Prior to visiting Davao, he went to Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental to update its residents on the P5.1-billion Panguil Bay Bridge project that would connect Tangub City to the municipality of Tubod in Lanao del Norte.

While in Davao City, President Aquino also took the opportunity to meet local executives allied with the Liberal Party in a so-called “gathering of friends” event to promote the candidacy of its standard-bearer, outgoing Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II. PND (hdc)

APEC Finance and Central Bank officials to finalize Cebu Action Plan for Friday’s signing
(LAPU-LAPU CITY, Cebu) Finance and central bank officials of member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) will hammer out on Thursday the final version of the Cebu Action Plan (CAP), putting emphasis on how to tackle future challenges and ensure continuing growth in the region.

The finance ministers and central bank officials are meeting for the APEC Finance and Central Bank Deputies’ Meeting (FCBDM) at Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Hotel here Thursday.

In his welcome message, National Treasurer Roberto Tan said that as they iron out the final version of the CAP, they would stick to their gains and reflect on the strategic and long-term issues.

First, he said, they must consider how to take advantage of opportunities to sustain and support robust regional economic growth and deepen their cooperation; and second, they must discuss how member economies could address the challenges that might undermine their gains.

Given the region’s huge contribution to global growth, Tan said it is imperative for the APEC to further advance financial integration as a driver for intensified intra-regional trade and investment.

“We will discuss how we can forward financial integration in the region to make economic growth more inclusive,” he said.

Citing an example, he said the geographical fragmentation of the supply chain presents vast opportunities for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to increase participation in regional and global trade.

At the same time, he stressed that reducing the cost of sending remittances and expanding financial literacy also promote financial integration.

Tan further underscored that the economic gains of the APEC’s regional cooperation could be further enhanced through fiscal reforms and transparency.

“We will discuss how we can plug the holes in the proverbial leaky fiscal bucket and how we can manage fiscal resources more efficiently,” Tan said.

“Fiscal reforms and transparency not only help ensure fiscal sustainability but also makes fiscal policy more effective, efficient, and responsive.”

Recognizing the risks that APEC economies face because of the region’s geographical location in the Pacific Ring of Fire, APEC member economies must work on measures to mitigate the impact of disasters and natural calamities.

It has been estimated that 70 percent of the natural disasters that occurred between 2003 and 2013 hit the Asia-Pacific region, he said.

“These disasters have a significant implication for public financial management as well. Given this alarming threat, it is critical that APEC member economies work together to create means and safeguards against shocks to fiscal resources from natural disasters and other unpredictable events,” he noted.

Tan also pointed out that although growth has also come with unprecedented infrastructure development, there are still significant gaps.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates that the region needs an annual financing of $800 billion for infrastructure development.

Members of the APEC must recognize the role of the private sector in unlocking finance for infrastructure development, through public-private partnerships (PPP).

“For this to materialize, bankable projects have to be identified in the pipeline and capital markets developed,” he said, adding they have worked throughout the year to come up with the CAP, which will become a living and flexible document that addresses challenges within the region.”

The Asia Pacific accounted for one-third of world output in the year 2000, and at present, it contributes 57 percent of global production.

The region’s role as an engine of growth comes from strong trade and investment linkages across member economies, with intra-regional trade estimated at 46.5 percent of world trade. PND (as)

APEC policy brief calls for greater structural reform within member economies
(CEBU CITY, Cebu) Put more money in people’s pockets.

This, according to a new policy brief issued by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Policy Support Unit (PSU), will no doubt help fuel new and under-tapped sources of growth.

But how will the government do this amid rising uncertainties in global markets? Additional emphasis on policies that support social protection, innovation, entrepreneurship, career training, and skills development is needed, said the brief, which was issued in conjunction with this week’s meetings of APEC Finance Ministers and Structural Reform Ministers held here. In other words — greater structural reform within APEC member economies.

The report comes as trade growth — the traditional engine of Asia-Pacific economies — lagged behind gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the APEC region three years running. It is the first time this has occurred since APEC’s founding in 1989.

Director of the APEC PSU, Dr. Denis Hew, said a “new normal”, characterized by slower trade growth, is prompting Asia-Pacific economies to capitalize on household consumption as an emerging driver of productivity.

“Putting more money in people’s pockets encourages spending and lifts economies, which is what structural reform can help to make possible,” Hew explained.

“The adoption of policies that promote the efficient use of resources within economies and support business development, job creation, and increases in wages are a big priority moving forward,” he explained.

“It comes down to lowering complex behind-the-border barriers to business and social mobility on which next generation growth in the Asia-Pacific greatly depends.”

In addition, the brief said significant economic and employment inroads could be attainable through stepped-up fiscal rationalization, financial reform, trade liberalization and development of institutions to improve the management of human, material and financial resources. Policies that promote human capital investment and social protection are also described as priorities.

Emmanuel San Andres, an analyst with the APEC PSU and co-author of the brief, noted that structural reforms not only contribute to productivity but also help make growth more inclusive.

“There are particular gains to be made when it comes to opening up economic opportunities for women and vulnerable communities, increasing competitiveness, encouraging innovation and improving social protection,” said San Andres.

“The reform agenda within APEC is coming together, which is promising, though the region’s economies are really only at the end of the beginning of this long, hard slog,” he added.

“The launch of the Renewed APEC Agenda for Structural Reform 2016-2020 will position member economies to cohesively tackle the difficult task of policy implementation that lies ahead.”

Current efforts are focused on enhancing science and technology education, competitiveness in the services sector, micro, small and medium enterprise participation in international production and supply chains, and infrastructure and connectivity across APEC economies

These assessments set the tone for the development of further reform measures by APEC Ministers here this week and the subsequent push for adoption within the region.

Established in September 2007, the APEC PSU is a research and analysis arm of the APEC. Considered as an integral part of the APEC architecture, the unit is funded by voluntary contributions and overseen by a governance board.

The Policy Support Unit, which is attached to the APEC Secretariat, became operational in 2008, and operates under a set of governance arrangements. Its mandate has been extended until the end of 2020 following the agreement of the APEC Ministers at the 2012 APEC Ministerial Meeting. (acg)

President Aquino urges citizens to help stop illegal logging
President Benigno S. Aquino III called on citizens to support the government’s effort to halt illegal logging, during his visit to Davao City on Wednesday.

Before students and teachers of the Teodora Palma Gil Elementary School in Poblacion district, the President assured that his administration is determined to confiscate logs and punish illegal loggers.

“Marami talagang pasaway,” President Aquino said when asked by one student on why illegal logging continues even if it is against the law.

“Pag may nakita kayo, i-report ninyo kaagad para matulungan natin ang ating kapulisan, at ang DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) para masigurado nating tumigil na sila nang tumigil dahil huhulihin natin nang huhulihin,” he said.

The Aquino administration has come up with a policy that stops the selling of confiscated logs through public bidding, an effort aimed at putting an end to illegal logging, which previous governments tried but failed to accomplish.

“Gumawa na tayo ng patakaran, hindi na pwedeng i-bid, hindi na pwedeng ibenta,” said President Aquino.

“Dati kasi, may gimik diyan ang mga illegal logger. Puputulin, ‘pag nahuli, mag-bi-bidding para mapunta rin sa kanila. Tapos nagkakaayusan ng bidding para mura daw ang kuha ng estado.”

To the illegal loggers, the President warned, “Basta ang pinutol ninyo… na akala ninyo maipupuslit ninyo, mabibili ninyo, hindi na pwede ‘yon. ‘Pag pinutol ninyo, sisiguraduhin naming hindi kayo makikinabang, puro gastos lang ang napala ninyo at tuloy-tuloy na hinuhuli natin lahat ito”.

“’Yung sentrong istratehiya natin diyan, putulin mo nang iligal, pipilitin naming hindi mo mapakinabangan dahil hindi mo makukuha ‘yung kahoy—‘yon ang hinahabol natin,” he added.

President Aquino noted that the government has confiscated more than 400 truckloads of illegal logs, some of which have been donated to Davao, through the joint effort of the Technical Education and Skills Development and the DENR.

The Chief Executive said public schools benefit from the confiscated logs made into classroom chairs and tables.

“‘Pag may kahoy na nakumpiska ang gobyerno na illegally cut—siyempre, hindi mo na maitatanim ulit iyan, ano—gagawin na kaagad silya at saka mesa ng public school system natin,” he said.

President Aquino also recalled the flash floods in Mindanao in 2011, which resulted in deaths and destruction of properties.

“Nung 2011, nagkaroon ng mga bahang matindi at ‘yung dahilan… Isang malaking dahilan noon ang mga troso. Mayroon na tayong mas maraming ulan, pinakawalan pa ang mga troso noong kasagsagan ng ulan, ‘yung troso nag-ipitan dito sa mga imprastrukturang tulad ng tulay, sinira lahat ng mga tulay na ‘yon. So, sinira na ang kalikasan, sinira ang imprastruktura natin, patung-patong ang gastos na sana hindi na natin ginastos at napunta sa mas may kabuluhan, at iilan ang nakinabang at talagang nilalabanan natin ‘yan,” said the President. PND (jm)

APEC speeding up financial integration to boost growth through trade and investment
(MACTAN, Cebu) Member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) are working to accelerate financial integration to maintain strong trade and investment that are imperative in sustaining robust economic growth in the region.

The Philippines’ National Treasurer Roberto Tan said the region contributes 57 percent of global output, noting that its role as an engine of growth comes from the strong trade and investment linkages across member economies.

Tan said intra-regional trade is estimated at 46.5 percent of world trade.

“Given this, it is imperative for APEC to further advance financial integration as a driver for intensified intra-regional trade and investment,” he said during the opening of the APEC Finance and Central Bank Deputies’ Meeting here Thursday.

Tan said APEC finance officials are discussing initiatives that could forward financial integration in the region and make economic growth more inclusive, as they finalize the Cebu Action Plan (CAP), a roadmap for reforms for APEC member economies.

“For example, the geographical fragmentation of the supply chain prevents vast opportunities for SMEs (small and medium enterprises) to increase participation in the regional and global trade. Lowering the cost of sending remittances and expanding financial literacy also promote financial integration,” he stressed.

Tan bared that APEC senior finance officers worked for more than 12 hours on Wednesday to finalize the CAP, which they will discuss on Thursday for endorsement to APEC finance ministers.

Apart from financial integration, other pillars of the roadmap are financial resilience, fiscal reforms and transparency, and infrastructure development and financing.

Tan also noted the significant implication of natural disasters for public financial management.

It has been estimated that 70 percent of natural disasters that occurred from 2003 to 2013 hit the Asia-Pacific region.

“Given this alarming threat, it is critical that APEC economies work together to create means and safeguards against shocks to fiscal sources, hnatural disasters and other unpredictable events,” he added. PNA (ldv)

APEC health ministers: World faces ‘triple burden’ of infectious diseases, mental health, ageing
(CEBU CITY, Cebu) The world faces the “triple burden” of infectious diseases, mental health, and ageing, health ministers of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies said in a joint statement issued here.

Recognizing that good health and quality of life contribute to the APEC’s overall goal of advancing inclusive economic growth in the region, health ministers across the Asia Pacific are thus pushing for the adoption of their Healthy Asia Pacific 2020 Initiative.

“Good health allows citizens to reach their full productive potential, and the innovations that drive good health provide an astounding economic return,” said Health Secretary Janette Garin, head of the 5th APEC High Level Meeting on Health and the Economy (HLM5).

In the statement issued following the HLM5 meeting, health ministers of the 21 APEC economies said disasters, as well as the emergence and re-emergence of infectious diseases, pose a threat to the health security of everyone in the region.

They commended the Philippines for its response to the 2013 super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) and South Korea for effectively curbing the spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) earlier this year.

They further noted that health emergency preparedness, surveillance, response, and recovery systems in such instances must be improved.

In the case of the Philippines’ Yolanda experience, the APEC health ministers encouraged “APEC economies to learn from this experience to enhance their response to disasters”.

To South Korea’s actions during the MERS-CoV outbreak, they recommended “that the protocols used be shared with other economies”.

The APEC health ministers also encouraged greater research collaboration with other countries most impacted by the MERS-CoV threat to better understand and control its spread.

“Recent global and regional experience has demonstrated the need for increased investment in health and improved capacities of health systems in this area,” they added.

Member economies of the APEC must establish core capacities for prevention, detection, and control of infectious diseases, as provided in the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations (2005), the health ministers further said. (acg)

More than 100 Asia-Pacific chief executive officers join discussions to thresh out Cebu Action Plan
(LAPU-LAPU CITY, Cebu) More than 100 financial industry players, including chief executive officers of multinational investment banks, on Thursday joined Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) finance ministers in the discussion to iron out the Cebu Action Plan (CAP), which is expected to be signed on Friday.

The Finance Sector Roundtable and Dialogue with APEC Finance Officials and Ministers aims to detail the contents of the Cebu Action Plan to the members of the private sector.

Delegates from the private sector are expected to share their views on pressing issues confronting the financial industry and regional economy, as well as give additional inputs on how the financial sector could help pursue the objectives of the CAP.

The Cebu Action Plan, a development roadmap drafted by the Philippines, will be formally launched on Friday, following a series of Philippine-hosted meetings and workshops with senior officials from finance ministries across the Asia Pacific.

Financial integration, fiscal reforms and transparency, financial resilience, and infrastructure development and financing, are among the CAP’s four pillars.

“Private sector participation is a crucial determinant of success and sustainability in any endeavor,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said.

“As host of the 2015 APEC meetings, we are pleased to see the overwhelming participation and interest of financial sector executives in the discussions on the Cebu Action Plan. Asia Pacific’s financial future is in great hands with them sharing this journey with us.”

Executives from Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Standard Chartered Bank, Goldman Sachs, ING, Barclays Investment, Deutsche Bank AG, and HSBC joined the discussions.

Multinational insurance companies, credit-rating agencies, and development institutions are also part of the meeting.

The two-day event is being held simultaneously with the ongoing APEC Finance and Central Bank Deputies’ meeting.

The APEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting will be held on Friday (September 11).

The Cebu Action Plan, which enjoys broad support from various APEC member economies, is seen as the Philippines’ legacy to the region as an output for its APEC hosting this year.

Peru, host of APEC 2016, has already expressed its commitment to help champion the Cebu Action Plan. PND (as)

President enjoins youth to be prime movers in preserving environment
(DAVAO CITY) President Benigno S. Aquino III called on the youth to be prime movers in caring for the environment, when he met with pupils of the Teodoro Palma Gil Elementary School here Wednesday.

Asked by an elementary student on government efforts to improve the quality of air in the country, the President noted that the government has a Clean Air Act, which aims to curb air pollution.

Citing an example, he said the Clean Air Act requires motor vehicles to undergo smoke emission tests.

“Isa sa mga ginawa ni (Interior) Secretary Mar (Roxas) ‘nung siya ay nasa DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications), mayroong mga smoke emission testing centers na sinasabi mga 600 hanggang 800 sasakyan ang na-te-testing nila,” he said, adding that the government has also shut down establishments caught giving away fake certifications.

The President further said while the government is addressing illegal logging, it has also spearheaded the planting of at least 1 billion trees.

“Next year, matatapos natin ang target nating magtanim ng one-and-a-half billion trees,” he said.

He also said that the Climate Change Commission is carrying out measures that would better prepare the country for natural disasters.

“At siyempre, nandito tayo para mag-apela sa inyong lahat na kayong nakababata sa amin, importante na kayo ang maging matatag as prime mover,” he said.

As the country faces a severe spell of El Niño, the President said the youth could directly help by conserving water and by saving electricity, for instance by unplugging appliances that are not in use.

“Pero ang pinaka-importante, ‘yung mas aral kayo, mas bago ang kaalaman ninyo kaysa sa aming mga nauna sa inyo at nakakausap ninyo ang mga magulang ninyo. Maibabahagi ninyo ang natutunan ninyo para ‘yung kanila ring kaalaman ay maging makabago… para lahat tayo magtulungan sa problemang pare-pareho nating haharapin,” he said.

Responding to another question on the K-to-12 Basic Education Program, the President explained that the program brings the Filipino youth at par with their counterparts around the world, in terms of knowledge.

“Ang mungkahi dito bigyan ang kabataan ng sapat na panahon para matuto nang buong-buo para kayanin na makipagsabayan sa kaalaman ng maski sino man sa buong mundo,” he said.

He also advised his audience never to stop learning.

“Pag hindi ka tumigil mag-aral, talagang ito ang susi para umangat nang umangat. Pero the minute na sabihin mo, ‘Alam ko na lahat nang dapat kong matutunan,’ ito ang umpisa ng paglubog dahil parating nagbabago ang kaalaman ng dumarami. So, ulitin ko, mabibigyan kayo ng pagkakataon na isagad ang inyong oportunidad para kayo umasenso. Ito ang habol natin doon sa K-to-12,” he said. PND (ag)

Executive Secretary Ochoa presents budget of the Office of the President for Fiscal Year 2016 to Congress
Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. told the House of Representatives on Thursday that the Office of the President (OP) was increasing its spending plan for Fiscal Year 2016 by 10 percent due to higher funding requirements for personnel services and capital outlays.

Appearing before the House Committee on Appropriations, Ochoa presented the proposed P2.825 billion budget plan of the OP, up by P258 million from the 2015 allocation of P2.567 billion.

Specifically, the proposed funding for OP’s Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) is higher by 2 percent, or P46.6 million, to P1.957 billion, from the current year’s appropriation.

The provision for Capital Outlay (CO), meanwhile, has been raised to P96.9 million, by 76.9 million, for 2016 to fund continuing improvements being undertaken within the OP facilities.

The proposed budget for Personnel Services (PS) is higher by 21 percent, or P134.67 million, to P771.67 million, compared to the previous spending package, in order to meet the actual salaries and other compensation benefits of all OP personnel as of December 31, 2014, including retirement and life insurance premiums.

When broken down to reflect the output and activities of the office, 71 percent of the P2.825-billion budget would be earmarked for operations, while 29 percent for general administration and support services, according to Ochoa.

The OP provides executive, technical and management services, advisory services, legal services and Presidential Executive Staff services to the President of the country in the exercise of his functions as head of state, chief executive and commander-in-chief.

Under Executive Order No. 292, the OP consists of the OP-Proper and bodies under the chairmanship of the President, other executive offices, and government-owned and -controlled corporations under it.

The OP-Proper includes the Private Office, Executive Office, Common Staff Support System and the Presidential Assistant/Advisers System. PND (oes)

Next year’s APEC host backs Cebu Action Plan
(CEBU CITY, Cebu) As it gears to host next year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Peru has pledged its all-out support for the “ambitious proposal” that is the Cebu Action Plan, to be unveiled Friday.

The discussions here among finance leaders of APEC member economies, according to Peruvian Ministry of Finance and the Economy Director Fabier Roca,
will nourish Peru when it hosts the APEC in 2016.

“Peru is firmly committed to the Cebu Action Plan,” Fabianis said during a press briefing held here Wednesday.

“When we host APEC, we will prepare the discussion for the implementation of the action plan, especially in the financial resilience and financial transparency micro economic issues,” he added.

“A deep and impressive agenda” is how Fabianis described the CAP, even as APEC tries to draft an effective way for its implementation, at least in the short-term plan in the case of the Philippines and Vietnam.

“A very comprehensive action plan against not only a volatile market, but also to foster capital market development, to exchange information, to promote trade and investment through financial integration, and to make economies more resilient to economic shocks and disasters,” he stressed.

There is also significant support from other APEC members for many policies and activities that are proposed to be included in the action plan.

The Cebu Action Plan, a development roadmap drafted by the Philippines with inputs from development partners and other member economies of the APEC, will be formally launched on Friday, following a series of Philippine-hosted meetings and workshops earlier in the year among senior officials from finance ministries across the Asia Pacific.

The CAP has four pillars: (1) financial integration, (2) fiscal reforms and transparency, (3) financial resilience, and (4) infrastructure development and financing.

“We have full commitments on that,” he assured. “The Cebu Action Plan is an ambitious proposal which we believe the Asia-Pacific economies should be undertaking in order to build inclusive and resilient economies.”

According to Fabianis, the pillars must be implemented, considering the unity of the economies.”

“We understand that not all the APEC members are ready to implement in the short term but we must work with those economies to try to implement this instrument, to work and discuss around the instrument,” he added. (acg)

President Aquino graces APEC finance minister’s meeting in Cebu
(MACTAN, Cebu) President Benigno Aquino III graced the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Finance Ministers’ Meeting and Related Meetings attended by heads of finance ministries and top executives in Asia Pacific region at Shangri-La Hotel in Mactan, Cebu on Thursday, September 10.

In his speech, President Aquino underscored how the Cebu Action Plan (CAP) can help APEC member economies address challenges towards achieving more inclusive economic growth in the region.

“My positivity is reinforced by the Cebu Action Plan—named after one of the most progressive provinces in our nation—to which our economies are committing,” he said.

“I am told that it ticks all the right boxes: better financial integration among APEC members fosters an environment ripe for investment; greater transparency as regards government funds maximizes efficiencies—and more importantly—the benefits enjoyed by our peoples; and a renewed commitment to improve and finance infrastructure that will lay the necessary foundations for continued growth. Not to mention, the Cebu Action Plan will also help equip us to respond to some of the gravest threats to our economies in the form of natural disasters, particularly those caused by the new normal of climate change,” he added.

CAP is development roadmap introduced by the Philippines in January covering four pillars such as financial integration, fiscal transparency and policy reform, financial resiliency, and infrastructure development and financing.

It is expected to be approved by the APEC Finance Ministers on Friday.

In an interview with Budget Secretary Florencio Abad who was with the President during the event, he noted government’s efforts in promoting fiscal transparency.

“Today, the international budget partnership and some of the collaborating agencies released their 2015 report and the good news is they have ranked the Philippines number one in Southeast Asia insofar as open budget is concerned,” he said.

“We have increased our ranking from 48 points to 64, which is our highest since the open budget index was started in 2006 and we are next to South Korea in the whole of Asia and the 21st in the world. So, I think this is a recognition that the Philippines plays a leading role insofar as promoting greater transparency,” he added. PND (jb)