PRESIDENT AQUINO OFFERS P4.23 BILLION SUBSIDY TO POOR FILIPINOS TO OFFSET HIGH FUEL PRICES


PRESIDENT AQUINO OFFERS P4.23 BILLION SUBSIDY TO OFFSET HIGH FUEL PRICES MANILA | Sun May 1, 2011 4:51am EDT MANILA May 1 (Reuters) – President Benigno Aquino offered 4.23 billion pesos ($100 million) in rice subsidy on Sunday to 10 million poor Filipinos to offset rising fuel and food prices as thousands of workers protested to demand wage increase on Labour Day. In his Labour Day speech, Aquino unveiled a package of non-cash benefits, including extra funds to hire 80000 students on summer break for temporary jobs and help 100000 job-seekers find work at home and abroad. The president rejected workers’ proposals to repeal an oil deregulation law to allow the government to subsidise pump prices, because it could weaken the peso against the dollar and widen the fiscal deficit. Instead he offered to distribute rice stocks from the state-owned National Food Administration to about 10 million poor people nationwide to cushion rising fuel and food prices. “We are not promising the impossible,” Aquino said in a Labour Day speech in Manila, adding it was not feasible to remove the deregulation law to bring down fuel costs. “How can we do that if world crude prices are rising? Where will we get financing to cover for the price gap? Even if this can be done, it will lower cost artificially. The dollar will skyrocket and the peso will weaken.” Manila wants to narrow its fiscal shortfall to 3.2 percent of GDP, or 290 billion pesos, this year, from 3.7 percent of GDP, or 314 billion

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