• Aquino government clueless over PH unemployment problem

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    The report of the National Statistics Office that the country’s unemployment rate has worsened to 7.5 percent last January (from 7.1 percent January 2013) has thrown cold water over President Aquino’s boasts about the Philippines supposedly achieving tiger-economy rates of growth under his watch.

    What’s the use of growth if it isn’t creating jobs for the poor, and even burying them deeper in poverty? The rich after all, don’t really need to work. What’s the use of the double-digit growth rates of Philippine conglomerates like Henry Sy’s SM empire, the Ayala group, and the Indonesian Salim empire if these just lead to their owners getting higher rankings on the global billionaire lists while the poor get hungrier and less able to buy medicines they need?

    What adds bitterness to the bad news is that Aquino and his officials blame super-typhoon Yolanda and other disasters for the worsening unemployment rate. Obviously they didn’t even bother to read the NSO report.

    A reporter like the intrepid Anthony Taberna who doesn’t specialize in economic news pointed out—correctly, and ridiculed Aquino’s officials for the boo-boo, deservedly—that the NSO report quite clearly specified that its survey did not include Region 8, of which the typhoon-ravaged Samar and Leyte are part.

    Palace spokesperson Herminio Coloma even made a comedy of the tragic news when he tried to explain the rise in unemployment by claiming that refugees from typhoon-ravaged areas couldn’t find work in Metro Manila and other better-off areas because they had “lost their ID cards and transcript of (educational) records” during the typhoon.
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    I nearly fell from my chair reading that. How can he say that? Didn’t he even check that the NSO’s labor force survey involves 50,000 respondents all over the country? While these are much bigger than the respondents of “pay-per-view” Social Weather Station and Pulse Asia, it means that the NSO survey had 3,000 respondents per region.

    Now what are the chances that the NSO interviewed a refugee from Leyte or Samar, who reported that he couldn’t find work because he lost his ID and records?

    Maybe Coloma has just been too busy making up excuses for his boss’ failings to have the time to study the matter, and he is in the first place not qualified to comment on economic issues. But even Aquino’s economic adviser, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, who supervises the NSO, blamed the disasters: “The January result of the LFS is quite unique in that it comes as an aftermath of two extreme disasters in 2013. We are now observing the lingering effects of the disruptions caused by these disasters on the supply chains not only in disaster-affected areas but also in neighboring areas.”

    “The devastation wrought by these disasters probably affected tourism and demand for leisure and wellness services,” the economist Balisacan claimed.

    Didn’t he bother to read the data generated by an office under him which showed that the proportion of workers employed in the services sector, especially those directly involved in the tourism industry (the “accommodation and food services” item in the NSO’s tables) had remained the same from its January 2013 levels?

    Jobs plan
    What demonstrates this administration’s incompetence is the plan “unveiled” by Coloma to provide jobs to Filipinos:

    “We will … facilitate their employability by assisting job applicants in reconstructing pre-employment documents (that they lost in the typhoons).”

    We are in a hopeless situation with a government run by nincompoops who don’t realize that jobless growth is our biggest, nearly intractable problem, one that we can only start to solve if our economic structure’s flaws are addressed and useless government policies — like the conditional cash transfer program — are junked.

    The chart accompanying this column points to the enormity of our unemployment. To be fair to the Aquino administration, the country’s unemployment problem has dogged us for decades. While the data I’ve managed to acquire starts only with 1982, I suspect it was in the 4 percent levels from the 1960s and 70s.

    After what was really an economic Armageddon from 1982 to 1986 (when the economy contracted for three years in such a magnitude never seen before or after due to the perfect storm of an economic and a political crisis), the unemployment rate has steadily risen up to 2004.

    Although a change in the definition in unemployment explains much of the steep drop in 2005, there has been a downward, but not spectacular, trend since 2005 to 2013. But it is rising again.

    Compare our unemployment rates since 1980 with Thailand, and see that ours are contained in the 6 to 8 percent band, while our neighbors are in the 1 percent levels, so that theoretically they are full-employment economies. Something is deeply wrong with ours.

    Clear program needed
    The next government would have to really have a clear idea of our unemployment problem, and a clear program of action, instead of a fuzzy economic agenda.

    My studies, though, point to at least five major reasons for our unemployment situation.

    High electricity costs. We have the 5th highest electricity cost in the world, and the highest in Asia. This has been the biggest disincentive, not only for foreign investors, but even for local investors, to go into manufacturing for export and local consumption. And manufacturing, except in very rare cases, has been proven to be the biggest employment generator.

    Weak infrastructure, which has made logistics for industries expensive in the country. A strong infrastructure (trains for instance to areas outside Metro Manila) would create other viable areas for investment other than metropolitan Manila, whose congestion has created massive traffic congestion (that reduces workers’ productivity) and astronomical property prices.

    The coconut industry, a dying industry that has kept at last 2 million Filipinos in poverty, and more and more creating unemployment in provinces which are dominated by it.

    A flawed financial system, in which banks are controlled by conglomerates so that these would finance their expansion Credit. As a result to those businesses without such banks, and most especially, entrepreneurs, loans are expensive and scarce.

    What has made our country’s unemployment worse is that this government practically has not undertaken any move, or only feeble initiatives, to address these.

    Its flagship effort has been the conditional cash-transfer program, a massive dole-out system whose flaw can easily be appreciated if you think of that adage, “Don’t give a hungry man a fish but instead teach him to fish.” Mr. Aquino cannot junk it as it is a massive vote-buying scheme, the only strength he can give his anointed to win in 2016.

    From 2010 to this year, the government budget for the CCT will total an astounding P166 billion. Consider that as a 30 percent “equity,” that is, it can mobilize credit of P387 billion. Which means a fund of P553 billion, or half a trillion.

    How many 600-MW power plants, highways, and ports for inter-island shipping would that half-a-trillion peso fund build?

    tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
    www.trigger.ph and www.rigobertotiglao.com

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    26 Comments

    1. mauricio palao on

      The shanties in the chart represent people relocating from farms to the cities..from the scarcity in the agricultural sector to the ‘ promise’ of ‘manufacturing’ & ‘service’ jobs in the city. I wonder, how much of the gap between both curves could have been filled by a strong agricultural sector..as vibrant, say, as Thailand’s. The trajectory of both curves just mimics each other so closely..one might suspect a missing sector. One other thing..the Philippine’s figures must have been gleaned from the BIR, the SSS and other such sources. We do have a thriving ‘black economy’ that craves anonymity. Could figures of ‘unemployment’ (and productivity therefore) be skewed?

    2. any person in his right mind can understand that unemployment is over 25%.One only has to put a wanted ad sign and you would probobly get at least 20 overqualified applicants for 1 job
      Be that as it may it is small and medium enterprises that create jobs and the BIR,the bureaucracy and the blackouts, and every government agency that can make money out of he businessman is waiting in line to suck him.
      So why in the world should a businessman continue, let alone expand. Opening a new business is almost out of a businessman ‘s mind….
      .Help business, stop killing the Goose and then wonder why there are no golden eggs.

    3. So what you are saying is that honesty is not a criteria anymore in selecting a President . On the contrary to your belief, honesty my friend brings food to the table majority of the people not only here but abroad. So guys, who do you want to lead this country after P-Noy term ? I guess most of you prefer the likes of Estrada”s and Revilla”s, well, good luck people you get what you deserve !

    4. Jimmy Perez: Assuming that out of our present population of 100 million, half are of working ages, then the 10 million OFW’s working abroad will represent 20% of the unemployed already. Furthermore, if you look around in rural areas of the Philippines, not including those who are underemployed, around 40% of people of working ages, especially women, are unemployed.

      Therefore, the 7.5% unemployment rate claimed the Abnoy’s administration is just plain hogwash.

    5. “Another good thing about him is that, he is honest and is not corrupt unlike his predecessors.”……….talking about Penoy.

      Go ask the Marines and they will tell you otherwise. I did. They retorted back to me. –
      ‘Tell it to the Marines’

    6. Julian Tulay on

      Like what Senator Osmena said, Abnoy was honest but people around him were not.

    7. G. Tiglao,
      Sa isang pagpupulong ni P’noy at mga estudyante sinabi niya na ayaw niya
      na ampaw o puro hanggin lang ang laman ng ulo ng maaring sumunod na
      Presidente sa kaniya, na binigkas niya bilang paalala sa mga botante na
      sana ay pag-aralang mabuti ang katauhan ng mga kakandidato. Kung
      aking wawariin ay tila ang Lumikha na ang naglagay ng mga pangungusap
      kay P’noy para siya na rin ang magsabi sa katotohanang sinapit ng
      bansa sa ngayon, na dahil sa malaking pagkakamali ng botante nuong
      eleksyon ng 2010, Ampaw at puro kabag ang laman ng mga namamahala
      sa ngayon sa ating gobyerno na puno ng kasinungalingan, at siya
      na rin ang nagpapaalala na magkaroon ng ibayong ingat ang mga
      botante na huwag ng maghalal ng AMPAW.

    8. how can you expect sensible solutions from a government that doesn’t even understand the root cause of the problems.

    9. I don’t believe that our unemployment rate is just only 7%, it is more and most probably 20% up excluding underemployed including around the coastal area of our country. This government is in fact zero. Mostly all of them are not qualified to manage their respective position as well the Economic advisers of these administration. They don’t know where , what and when they will start. Massive infrastructure project must be plan esp. the energy resources, Power plant which will boost the Direct investment in our country.. Cheap energy rates will boost our economic and create more jobs for our people…..

    10. This regime is fond of band-aid solutions to our country’s indemic economic problems. This CCT program clearly is just for show. However, sadly enough it is a huge waste of government funds. If only PNoy has a long-term perspective, this billions could have been allocated to more infrastructure projects that will support and promote the country’s industrialization, like seaports, airports, superhighways, communication facilities. Also, children of these poor families could have been sponsored as scholars in TESDA for skills trainings, instead of CCT dole outs which only end up as gambling bets, drunken sprees, and guarantee to loan sharks.

    11. Japan before copied the industrialization policies of US. South Korea, Taiwan, china and Singapore also did the same thing and now Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam are following the same policy as those countries did. It should be very easy then that our country could have done the same thing, however, the only obstacle to that is the selfish character nature of our politicians. Sarili muna bago ang bansa. Ibang klase ang mga politicians natin. Wealth and power is their fulfillment dream. Lalo na at dumadami ang political dynasts sa bansa natin.

    12. P-Noy may be inept but again, he is a lot better as president than GMA. Another good thing about him is that, he is honest and is not corrupt unlike his predecessors.

      • honesty will not bring food on the table for the poor! what is needed is to translate that honesty into sound economic program that benefits the majority, which noynoy failed to do as president!

      • tom,
        paano mo sasabihing matapat si P’noy hangga ngayon di pa
        niya inaamin siya ang pinagmulan ng bilyon bilyong pera
        ng bayan na ipinamudmod niya sa mga tampalasang
        kongresmen at senador na siyang pinagsimulan ng
        napakalaking pangungurakot sa kaban ng bayan para
        lamang makontrol niya ang lahat ng sangay ng pamahalaan.
        Di baleng magka windang windang ang bansa dahil
        na nauwi sa wala ang perang dapat sanay nakatulong
        ng malaki para sa kaunlaran bagkus napunta sa bulsa
        ng iilan.
        Hangga ngayon di parin niya inaamin ang kawalan ng
        tama at sapat na pagtulong ng gobyerno para maibalik
        sa dati ang mga tao sa Leyte. Kung yan ay katapatan
        dapat palitan na ang kahulugan ng honesty sa diksyonario.
        Tom hindi ka man kurap pero kung wala kanamang
        kakayahan tupdin ang mga tamang hakbang para sa
        kaunlaran ng bansa at di mo matangap ang katotohanan
        ikaw ba ay matapat sa sarili mo at sa bansa. Hindi mo nga
        ninakaw pero winaldas mo naman ang kaban hindi ba
        magkatumbas na rin yun ng kurapsyon.

      • lol sure ka duon honest.. hahaha honest and not corrupt tell it to the marines. He corrupted congress by giving higher porkbarrel , and money from PDAF and DAP para maalis si CJ Corrona.

      • Ha Ha tell that to the Marines with CCTP, release of DAP,the Pork Barrel, the Corona Trial, We might be blind but not stupid

    13. I don’t buy the claim of the Aquino administration that the Philippines’ unemployment rate is at 7.5%. Do they mean our unemployment is just about the same as Canada’s 7.2 %? If our unemployment rate is this low, why aren’t our people prosperous like Canadians? Why are 10 million OFWs still abroad and thousands more departing every month looking for works in foreign countries instead of working in their home country?.Why are millions of Filipino families starving and living in grinding poverty?

      The truth is, as many have probably guessed, that this government is just fooling us with its manufactured statistics data pulled out of the blue, and our unemployment and underemployment rates are way over the 7.5% that they’re telling us. Our population, which now stands at 100 million – the 12th highest in the world, is growing at an unsustainable rate. To compound our misery, our economy is not big enough to provide new jobs to the millions of young Filipinos entering the job market, hence the big unemployment problem and the resulting poverty.

      • The 7.5% is just the unemployment rate.

        Including under-employment, it is almost about 30%

        And that will explain why Filipinos are going abroad to seek employment.

    14. We need to open up more Economic Zone to bring investor outside, and massive Infrastracture, increase agricultural cooperative support system. Too many government agencies that are not functioning. Put more Tesda acrideted school to improve manpower. These Govt is slow performing no manufacturing firms being open or invested. We need to give tax breaks to major Companies that will bring manufacturing investment.