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Gov’t braces for effects of US financial crisis

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By Joel Guinto, Agence France-Presse
First Posted 15:41:00 09/30/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Monetary authorities are working hard to maintain fiscal stability and shield the public from shock waves after the US Congress shot down a $700-billion bailout, President Gloria Arroyo said Tuesday.

Arroyo said she hoped the US legislature would reverse its vote and agree to the plan to buy up a mountain of bad debts that has led to a collapse of investment banks.

“Umaasa pa tayo na magkakaroon ng panibago pang boto, maybe this Thursday, para matulungan ng gobyerno ang Wall Street [We are hoping for another vote, maybe on Thursday, so that the US government can help Wall Street],” she said in a speech in Balangiga town, Eastern Samar province.

“But that just goes to show that this is really a time of global economic uncertainty,” Arroyo said. “And in this time, we in the Philippines have been working tirelessly to address challenges arising from the global slowdown combined with the spike in oil and food prices.”

Arroyo said shock waves from the US crisis were causing “real difficulties for countries around the world.”

She said that her economic managers were working hard to manage inflationary pressures and provide a safety net to those affected.

They were to meet late Tuesday to assess the impact on the economy if US lawmakers reject again the bailout package.

Tuesday’s meeting, the first in a series, would involve “data-gathering,” Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya said.

Among those expected to attend were Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, Trade Secretary Peter Favila, Central Bank governor Amando Tetangco, Socio-economic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, and Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes.

Andaya said that if the US Congress fails to pass the rescue plan proposed by President George W. Bush, the resulting crisis could be worse than the Asian financial crisis in 1997.

“The best scenario is it will be passed. We want it passed, but that is something beyond our control. We want to be prepared for any eventuality,” Andaya told reporters in Malacañang.

If the bailout plan is rejected, Andaya said: “It will have an adverse effect on the US economy, and also our economy.”

“All sectors will be affected. Interest rates will go up, exports will shrink,” he said. The United States is the Philippines’ biggest trading partner.

Andaya said the government would continue to boost its infrastructure spending, buoyed by tax collections, to keep the economy afloat.

Asked if additional taxes would be discussed in the meetings, Andaya said: “Probably [as] a side issue. We’re more concerned about the negative effects if the bailout does not materialize. Of course, down the line, that could be one of the solutions. That’s always the option, but that’s not the main agenda.”

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2008-09-30T09:22:19+00:00UTC09bUTCTue, 30 Sep 2008 09:22:19 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am09

Posted in Uncategorized

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