The high electricity costs and red tape in the country are driving away investments that create jobs, administration lawmakers said on Tuesday.
House Deputy Majority Leader Magtanggol Gunigundo of Valenzuela City and House Appropriations panel Vice Chairman Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar made the pronouncement in light of the Social Weather Stations survey showing that there are 12.1 million Filipinos unemployed, up 2.5 million from the same period the previous year.
Gunigundo noted that the government should start investing in power generation, considering that it has been proven that private firms are insensitive to the people’s plight as seen with the simultaneous unplanned shutdowns of power plants which coincided with the scheduled maintenance outage on the state-run Malampaya natural gas plant.
Such outages already prompted the Manila Electric Company to seek an unprecedented P4.15 per kilowatt hour increase which has been out under Temporary Restraining Order by the Supreme Court.
“We should take steps in easing the way of doing business so the government should operate and maintain power generation facilities. Private companies are profit-driven. The government should invest in power generation so we can avoid the problems caused by the forced shutdown of private power plants,” Gunigundo said during the weekly Ugnayan sa Batasan forum.
“What we need for job creation are foreign direct investments, especially in the manufacturing sector which is a heavy job generator. The top hindrance for this industry is the definitely the high cost of electricity,” Evardone added.
Further, Gunigundo cited that the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) should crack the whip on Local Government Units (LGUs) concerning the implementation of the Anti-Red Tape Law which provides that LGUs should identify a reasonable timeframe in issuing business, building, sanitary, occupancy permits, among others.
“Even if the national government pours in all the road show in other countries about how great it is to invest in our country, these investors will ultimately deal with local governments since these are the ones issuing permits. As it is, securing these various permits takes a very long time,” Gunigundo pointed out.
“The DILG should police the LGUs,” Gunigundo added.
In closing, Evardone pitched for the convening of the National Competitive Council to identify the loopholes in job generation considering that graduation season is around the corner.
“By next month, we will have around 300,000 new graduates who will be joining the labor force. The Department of Labor and Employment should be able to identify where will be put these new graduates,” Evardone said. LLANESCA T. PANTI