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Fitch Assigns Philippines Global Bond Expected 'BB' Rating

January 05, 2006 | Cbonds

Fitch Ratings has today assigned the Republic of the Philippines' upcoming USD1.5 billion, 25-year global bond an Expected 'BB' rating. The assignment of the Final rating is contingent upon receipt of final documents conforming to information already received.
Fitch placed the Foreign and Local Currency Issuer Default Ratings of the Philippines, which are 'BB' and 'BB+', respectively, on Negative Outlook in July 2005 following the issuance of a temporary restraining order by the Supreme Court on the expanded value added tax ("VAT"). The court decided in October that the tax was constitutional, allowing the government to implement the planned broadening of the tax base and increase in the tax rate.

Preliminary 2005 fiscal data indicate that, even with the delayed implementation of the expanded VAT, there was a marked reduction in the consolidated national government deficit, to an estimated 2.5% of GDP last year from 3.9% of GDP in 2004. Notwithstanding this positive fiscal performance, Fitch remains concerned about the structure of public finances and the heavy sovereign debt burden when measured relative to government revenue. Estimated at 470% at end-2005, the Philippines' government debt/revenue ratio is more than double the median for the 'BB' peer group. Moreover, revenue collection is still among the lowest of all rated sovereigns, confirming the need for further revenue enhancing measures.

The political turmoil that centred on several impeachment motions filed against President Arroyo last year faded with the dismissal of the motions, but political issues may return to the fore in 2006. There will be ongoing discussions on possible revisions to the 1987 constitution, and Fitch believes there is a risk that economic policies may be put aside as legislators focus on sensitive issues surrounding the structure of government and the transition period for enacting change.


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