Press Release
May 9, 2014

Drilon lauds improved PH credit rating, bats
for gov't attention to unemployment

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon today applauded the latest credit upgrade rating given to the Philippines by Standard & Poor's (S&P) as "an indication that the improved economic policies and reforms are working," while saying that such progresses must propel similar advances by the country in terms of job creation and shared economic development.

The Senate leader made the statement following the announcement by S&P that the Philippines' credit rating has advanced to "BBB" - or one notch above minimum investment grade - from the previous "BBB-" rating. The grade is the highest the Philippines has received from the three major international credit rating agencies - S&P, Fitch Ratings and Moody's Investor Service.

The S&P made the upgrade following its recognition of political and economic reforms implemented by the Aquino administration, which have enabled the Philippines to report an economic growth rate that is superior to nearby Southeast Asian economies.

Drilon welcomed the credit rating jump, saying that it is a sign that even international observers are noticing the extensive efforts by the government to effect structural changes towards good governance and sustainable macroeconomic development.

"This feat is a reflection of the soundness of the fundamental aspects of our economic strategy, which have led to many successes that were achieved despite drawbacks such as the wave of natural and man-made disasters that hit the country," he said.

The senator stressed that a key consideration for these improvements is the visible steps taken by the government to achieve transparency, accountability and efficiency in public service: "The monumental initiatives we have taken to eliminate corruption and malfeasance from our bureaucracy is good not only for our democratic health, but also for our economic condition too."

The senator also said that a contributing factor to the upgraded credit outlook is the improved revenue collection of the government. In 2013, P103.8 billion out of the total P1.217 trillion revenues collected by the state was made possible by the implementation of the Sin Tax Act of 2012. He however said that the state must ensure that such economic gains translate to financial progression for the citizens through more jobs and other financial opportunities.

The former Labor Secretary noted the dismal unemployment numbers of 7.5 percent in January 2014 and 7.3 percent in 2013 - the highest unemployment rate in the Southeast Asia region, according to the International Labor Organization.

"All these historic credit rating upgrade and rosy economic figures would only be appreciated by our people if they are translated into more jobs and food on the table of every Filipino family," he said.

"It remains the government's responsibility to ensure that the fiscal advantages and benefits that come with this investment upgrade should be utilized to further eradicate poverty and to generate economic opportunities for ordinary Filipinos," emphasized Drilon.

For their part, the Senate Chief then said that a comprehensive list of economic and pro-consumer bills that would aid such thrusts towards shared economic growth is among the priority measures of the senators. "These proposed measures include bills on the Consolidated Investments and Incentives Code of the Philippines, the Anti-Trust Act, the Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act, the Consumer Protection Act and a bill that will increase the tax exemption limit on employees' bonuses," Drilon said.

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