The nation’s anti-money laundering council has set its sights on local nonprofit groups, estimating P600 billion in funds from illegal activities channeled through these outfits over the last five years. The group’s latest report pointed to “service type non-profit organizations particularly involved in charitable, agricultural, educational, and livelihood activities largely located in the National Capital Region.” Most of the P600 billion was generated through investment scams and Janet Napoles Lim’s infamous pork barrel scheme, the report found.
Foreign currency reserves settled in at the highest level in seven months last December, marking the second straight month on the rise. Gross international reserves totaled $78.461 billion, up from November, but lower than the $81.57 billion recorded a year prior. The central bank attributed the relative growth to inflows from its foreign exchange operations, coupled with foreign currency deposits and gains from its gold holdings.
Finance officials say investor confidence in the country is up, following the recent sale of $1.5 billion in 10-year offshore dollar bonds. This marked a successful return to the international capital markets, the Bureau of the Treasury said, with the debt notes rated “BBB”, a notch above minimum investment grade. Finance Secretary Dominguez says this illustrates the government’s “ability to maintain fiscal discipline while spending big on infrastructure modernization, human capital development, and social protection of the poor.”
According to the World Bank’s latest global economic report, the Philippines is expected to weather the world GDP growth slowdown over the next few years. The nation will be among the fastest-growing countries in East Asia and the Pacific, roughly matching or outpacing China. But while a robust economic base and macroeconomic fundamentals have shielded the country from external shocks, some external and local risks still pose a threat to the Philippine economy.
With the May midterms closing in, “political positioning” could dampen Philippine growth. That’s according to Moody’s Investors Service, which cited the tax reform and national budget approval delays as signs of rising political risks. “Rather than political infighting in the Philippines, what we see is a political calendar having an impact with regards to reform and the functioning of the government,” said Christian de Guzman, Moody’s senior credit officer.