Sunday, 13 July 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, July 10, 2014

President Aquino highlights contribution of tourism industry to national economy

The tourism sector has made significant contributions to the national economy, giving the government a boost to continue its reform measures to make the gains more sustainable, President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Wednesday.

In his message during the grand launch of the Marco Polo Ortigas Manila, the President said that the progress the country has made in the tourism sector, together with the integral reforms in every other sector, has made a massive impact on the economy.

"Last year, despite the natural and man-made disasters that struck our nation, we were still one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, registering a GDP growth of 7.2 percent," he said.

"We have steadily won the confidence of the international community."

Also last year, he said, the most renowned credit rating agencies in the world upgraded the country's credit ratings in a short span of time.

The launch of Marco Polo Ortigas Manila serves as proof of the newfound confidence that companies have in the country’s prospects, he noted.

He further said that the tourism industry’s potential is huge.

Over the past four years, the number of tourists—both domestically and internationally—has increased dramatically.

For instance, he said, in 2011, the country recorded 37.5 million domestic travelers, which surpassed the government's original target, not for 2011, but for 2016.

“I can emphasize: we surpassed our original target for 2016 five years ahead of time,” he said, adding that because of this development, the government has set the new target of 56.1 million domestic tourists for 2016.

The number of international tourists has steadily increased as well, he said, going from an average of about 3 million a year to 4.68 million last 2013.

“And we remain committed to pursuing our 2016 goal of 10 million international tourists,” the President added.

Among the factors that boosted the Philippine tourism sector were the liberalization of the aviation industry as well as the successful launch of the global tourism campaign of the government, President Aquino said.

The P2.3-billion 313-room five-star hotel, which began construction in October 2010, was developed by president and chief executive officer of XinTian Ti Development Corporation, Samuel Po, in partnership with Marco Polo Hotels.

Marco Polo Hotels is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Wharf (Holdings) Ltd., a Hong Kong-listed company with core business interests in property and investments in communications and container-terminal operations. PND (as)

Building better communities for ‘Yolanda’ victims not because of Papal visit, Palace says

MalacaƱang said on Thursday that the government is building back better communities for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda because it is their responsibility and not for anything else.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Secretary Panfilo Lacson is making sure that the construction of houses for the victims goes on as planned.

“There is really an operation that we build back better. But if there are suggestions that we are doing this just for show, no it is not,” Lacierda said in reply to a reporter’s question wether rehabilitation efforts in areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda are being done because Pope Francis will visit Tacloban City next year.

“Secretary Lacson is on the ground working, making sure that the construction continues... The Pope’s decision to come to the Philippines is just very recent, so that was not part of the equation,” he explained.

The Vatican announced early this year that the Pontiff will visit the victims of Typhoon Yolanda in January 2015.

“Regardless of whether the Pope is visiting or not, the work of the government goes on. The construction goes on,” he added.

Lacierda noted that apart from leading the rehabilitation efforts in areas affected by the typhoon and the earthquake in Bohol, Secretary Lacson is also coordinating with other government agencies to make sure that all matters concerning the victims are addressed.

“Nag-request siya (Lacson) kay DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) Secretary Greg Domingo na mag-monitor and he also requested DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) Secretary Manuel Roxas to deputize the PNP for the reason na madami tayong nakitang substandard materials,” the Palace official said, referring to the recent raid in Cavite, where 40 million pesos worth of steel products were seized by the PNP.

Substandard steel materials were blamed for the collapse of buildings in Bohol when a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck Central Visayas in October 2013. PND (ag)

2015 national budget must benefit greater segment of society, says Palace

MalacaƱang has assured that it will protect the people's interest as it prepares the 2015 national budget, by ensuring that the money will be spent wisely.

In a press briefing at the Palace on Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that because of the Supreme Court decision on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), some of the projects funded by the program would have to stop.

To address the funding needs of ongoing projects, Lacierda said there is a proposal at the House of Representatives to increase the supplemental budget so these projects could continue.

"But insofar as the budget is concerned, we are guided now by the Supreme Court decision — even as we deliberate on exhausting our legal remedies," the Palace official said.

"Our concern is to ensure that the money that the people have reposed to the government will be spent wisely, judiciously, prudently, and in a manner that will be able to generate all these infrastructure projects in a timely manner."

The 2015 national budget is being crafted by the Budget secretary with the help of other Cabinet secretaries, to make sure that all short- and long-term projects are completed.

This is why the administration emphasizes budget reform, Lacierda said, underscoring the implementation of zero-based budgeting.

He said that this is designed to ensure that the taxpayers’ money will be used efficiently and prudently for the benefit of the greater segment of society.

In the midst of allegations that some Cabinet secretaries had benefitted from the DAP, Lacierda asked the public to read the case thoroughly.

"Our position is that the Supreme Court did not entirely repudiate the Disbursement Acceleration Program. There was not total repudiation of the DAP. Only four specific acts were called by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional," he said.

While there are disagreements on the use of government savings and other measures under the DAP, Lacierda said the Supreme Court had acknowledged in its decision that the program benefited the country economically. PND (as)