News in Brief
Peso closed at P55.40/$
The peso closed at P55.40 to the US dollar last Friday at the Philippine Dealing System of the Bankers Association of the Philippines. The weighted average rate stands at P55.381.
BoC surpasses year's target
The Bureau of Customs (BoC) has surpassed its P100.056-billion collection target for the full year, reporting a total performance of P103.058 billion as of December 18. According to BoC commissioner Antonio M. Bernardo, this is the first time in the burea's history that P100-billion mark has been reached. "It has set a new record cash collection, topping the 1996 revenue performance of P98.947 billion," Bernardo said. With an over performance in the target collection, Bernardo hopes that the government can push the deficit lower than the P202-billion ceiling for the year.
SSS to defer rate increase
The Social Security System (SSS) may need to defer its request for more increase in its members' contribution rate until after the 2004 elections even if its need for the increase remains as its fund's life is set to terminate by 2014 and may even shorten after it conducts a new valuation of its reserve fund. SSS President-CEO Corazon S. De la Paz said in a press briefing that even after the one percent increase in members' contribution rate from 8.4 to 9.4 percent last March, SSS obviously needs more raise but admitted an application for this with Malacanang at present may be futile. Instead, she said SSS is looking at other means to raise its income and continue averting a depletion of the fund. Maribel D. Ortiz, SSS economic research chief, said the pension fund will be subjected to another valuation so as to update its present life which was earlier predicted to last just up to 2014 and thus determine the contribution rate increase that it needs so as to extend its life up to 2065.
2003 exports seen up 1.4%
The country will likely post a 1.4 percent year-on-year growth in exports and a 6.6 percent rise in imports, below the government's targets for the year, preliminary data from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) shows. "These emerging growth figures are based on the trends of the first nine months of the year and our forecasts for the last quarter," said NEDA director Scholastica Cororaton. NEDA and the central bank have both forecast 10 percent growth for exports in 2004. Earlier, the government reported that merchandise imports in the January to October period rose 5.0 percent year-on-year to $31.106 billion from $29. …