PH bags second investment grade

In another vote of confidence, the Philippines bagged its second investment grade rating on Thursday from global debt watcher Standard and Poor's (S&P).

S&P gave the Philippines a stable outlook and raised its credit rating to BBB- from the previous BB+.

The upgrade came only more than a month after Fitch Ratings gave the country its first investment grade.

An investment grade means the Philippines can borrow funds at a lower cost, allowing the government to save.

Related story: A first in history: PH gets investment grade

"The upgrade on the Philippines reflects a strengthening external profile, moderating inflation and the government's reliance on foreign currency debt," S&P credit analyst Agost Benard said in a statement.

The Philippine economy exceeded expectations last year by accelerating growth to 6.6 percent from 3.9 percent in 2011.

"We expect the country to move into near-balanced external position because of persistent account surpluses, in which large net transfers from Filipinos working abroad more than offset ongoing trade deficits," Benard added.

Also read: PH stock market named one of world's 'hottest'

Malacanang welcomed the upgrade, which it said is the "latest institutional affirmation of the Aquino administration’s good governance initiatives."

"It is further indicative of sustained confidence in the Philippine economy:  of our collective resilience, optimism, and growing potential, amidst global economic uncertainty," presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima for his part said the ratings upgrade is "an affirmation of what the markets already recognize—that our economy's underlying soundness is on par with countries rated investment grade or higher."

Related story: More Pinoys remain poor, says NSCB

"For now, we must redouble our efforts to remove the remaining constraints to our growth if we are to reach even greater heights," Purisima said.

This, as he vowed that the government will focus on infrastructure development, ramping up social investments and further opening up the economy.

With the S&P upgrade, only one major debt watcher, Moody's Investors Service, has yet to give the country an investment grade, placing it a notch lower with a Ba1 rating.

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