Focus on jobs, Duterte urged


WARNING of future “shocks,” a global economic and policy analyst on Wednesday urged the Duterte administration to concentrate on job creation and reduce the country’s dependence on remittances from Filipino overseas workers in the long term.

RISKS AHEAD Global economic and policy analyst Dan Steinbock says President Rodrigo Duterte is on the right path with a policy goal of bringing home overseas workers and generating jobs. PHOTO BY BOB DUNGO

The new world order calls for stronger national economies as forces of globalization and integration wane and mature economies are unable to return to growth, Dan Steinbock told a roundtable discussion with The Manila Times editorial team.

Steinbock said President Rodrigo Duterte was on the right path with a policy goal of bringing home overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and generating jobs by attracting foreign investment and upgrading the country’s infrastructure.

“Duterte is making the right move. It will be the first time in five years that I can sit down and say that you have chosen the policy stance that makes sense, most importantly investment. Whether it comes from foreign sources or domestic, you cannot build infrastructure without it,” he said.

Steinbock said the huge population of Filipinos could be a destabilizing force in the future, and warned that having a good demographic profile – a huge pool of young workers – won’t be enough to yield high economic growth.

Steinbock pointed out that a significant chunk of the working population had been forced to work overseas because of the lack of local opportunities.

“Demographics is not enough unless you have jobs. We saw in Latin America what happened [in the 1950s to 1960s]. They had youthful demographics but no jobs,” he said. “So for me, demographics is actually really important. You cannot have a major change without it. However, if you don’t have jobs, you have a problem.”
Previous administrations were complacent, Steinbock argued.

“I think the fact that so many people have been exported is not good and we cannot be complacent about it,” he said.

“When you export people, you don’t grow. You have to have the people…It just doesn’t work,” he said. “Any sustainable, fast-growing, large emerging economy, none of them is exporting people.”

Money transfers from overseas Filipinos account for at least 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic
product. From January to October 2016, personal remittances totaled $24.43 billion, up 3.9 percent from a year earlier, while cash remittances reached $22.22 billion, up 4 percent.

Steinbock, founder of the Difference Group, a global consultancy and research outfit, said the Philippines could take advantage of its good demographics by harnessing its potential in manufacturing, electronics, information and communications technology and tourism, among other sectors.

“I think that Mr. Duterte sees the future very far away, 2040, as the new government plans seem to indicate where you would have more opportunities within the Philippines, you would have people and jobs, and thereby have the consumption that will benefit the economy and so forth,” Steinbock said.

In his official visit to Japan last year, Duterte told Filipino workers the current generation of OFWs would be the last.

“We have to improve the economy na hindi ka na babalik dito, na kung bumalik ka rito, baka-bakasyon na lang [We have to improve the economy so you will not come back here (Japan). If ever you will return here (Japan), it will be for a vacation],” he told migrant workers in Tokyo.


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  1. So-called “future shocks” r irrelevant to people who understand & see where new tech era heading to.

    1st phase: Connect people via social-biz media, fb, twtr, instagram etc…DONE and in place.

    New 2nd phase now underway: Connect people with ALL the things they do everyday > put food on table, repair shelters, provide clothing, travel, entertainment, et al for their families. AMZN/AirBnB to UBER replace old shopping/delivery habits & systems

    Gising, FILIPINOS! ONLINE Apps(softwares), the way of the future, globally.

  2. lorenzo legisniana on

    Thailand has done it. In the 70s and 80s plenty of domestic workers in the middle there is none.

  3. President Duterte is a lawyer not a businessman, the President does not know how to create jobs. But on the other side of the coin creating peace and security in the Philippines will automatically bring businesses from overseas thus creating jobs.

  4. I agree on it, 30 years ago I was forced to apply for overseas job because there was no enough job for me here in the Philippines. Unless you know somebody in the company or even in the government you need a padrino to be hired. I hope it will change the trend that Filipinos will not overseas for work.
    Now, I am on my 60’s and planning to go back here in the Philippines for good. And perhaps put up my own business here.

  5. The theory is sound but it does not consider the reality on the ground. There is this ordinary OFW. She is in a middle east country doing simple office work. She is earning P150,000.00 a month. Can she be convinced to return to the country and be paid a measly ten to twenty thousand pesos a month.? Even young lawyers or doctors working here will not be able to compete with her income-wise. Our economists should find ways and means to raise the pay of our local workers. That is the solution we need to focus on.

  6. Very Good foresight Mr. PRES let it happen. We got the demographics to be tally on your future jobs creation, so our people will not seek earnings from other country for survival. Also our talented professionals can be maximise in our own nation & not other country benefitted though they were (OFW) being paid accordingly.

    Early MARCOS time: US$1=6…… (less OFW)….. Till other pres. US$1=45 to 50 (more & more OFW)

  7. Exporting young and talented Filipinos cannot be stopped even the economy will improve ten times on what it is today. People that are qualified and wish to work overseas have considered so many variables and still wanted to leave the country and work overseas because of job security or stability, and this alone does not exists in the country. Access to education, health care, employment, owning your own house, and giving a brighter future for your children are big plus. In other words, ” be all you can be”, if you go and work in other countries. Stability of the government is also a big factor because when the government is stable, in will give a sense of security to the population. Demographics changes over time as a result of economic and political circumstances. However, I think that the Philippines’ demographic will not change overnight nor during the lifetime of President Duterte.

  8. Absolutely right. But where will the jobs be created? Mining is an industry where the Philippines should have a comparative advantage, but the industry is taboo, it seems. Tourism should be an asset, but is likely to decline under the image of a police state, extra-judicial killings and martial law. So what about a massive slum-clearance/home-building program to create jobs, develop construction skills, and provide decent living conditions for the urban poor?

    • Not necessary, in global tech era. Pinoys, like R-O-W love their freedom. Do what u want 2do, when and with whom. Home is relative. These days, kahit san kp sa mundo, basta hapeee’t ma- payapahhh!

      eka, life, liberty and the pursuit of hapeeeeeeeee-nezzzzzzzzz! ;-)

  9. Do not forget world class labor skill sets that can compete anywhere like Olympic champions.

  10. Thanks for this highly accessible and sensible analysis.

    Should be a model for the local aspiring “intellectual” how an important subject is to be presented. Accessible while in-depth and substantive.