THE number of jobless Filipinos may continue to rise over the years because the government has failed to encourage investments in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors or even inspire support for small enterprises that could have absorbed workers, especially in areas where there are high incidences of poverty, a political analyst warned on Tuesday.
Malacañang agreed with this observation but noted that measures are being taken to address the issue.
According to political analyst Ramon Casiple, the economic growth being experienced by the country has not been felt by the poor, who are mostly without jobs.
“The growth so far has not been inclusive of the poor, particularly in creating jobs and opportunities,” Casiple told The Manila Times.
According to him, economic growth cannot wipe out the problem of joblessness since the availability of jobs depends on “asset reforms” such as land reform, effective coastal management and rehabilitation of the coconut industry.
“Unless asset reform [and]investment in agriculture and manufacturing, and massive support for medium, small and mini industries are put in place, joblessness will increase,’ Casiple pointed out.
A recent survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that the number of jobless Filipinos grew by 300,000 in June as pessimism on prospects of finding employment next year also rose.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. admitted that improving productivity in the agricultural sector remains a challenge for the government but he noted that President Benigno Aquino 3rd is on top of the situation.
“Our economic cluster [in the Cabinet]continues to track the performance of the agriculture sector because this is one of the most important sectors of the economy and this includes majority of the population,’ Coloma said in a news briefing.
The Palace official added that the government allotted more funds for the agriculture sector to increase productivity and add jobs.
“[It goes] specially in the provinces where there are high numbers of Filipinos who may be poor… Such as in the coconut sector, they should have multi-cropping of high- yielding and high-value products to increase the P20,000 per hectare income from coconut farming,” Coloma explained.
Instead of solely depending on coconuts, farmers can grow cacao or coffee varieties to boost their income to up to five times than normal.
The Department of Finance had said the results of the Monthly Integrated Survey of Selected Industries (Missi) by the Philippine Statistics Authority showed a strong manufacturing industry.
Also in terms of job generation, Coloma said the government is doing all it can not only to make jobs available but to have “highly remunerative jobs” for qualified workers.
“We aim to create jobs that are high-paying and with sound working conditions… what we call ‘highly remunerative jobs’ that will showcase the talents and ingenuity of the Filipino worker,” he added.
In May, the International Labor Organization (ILO) reported that joblessness in the Philippines will continue to worsen even beyond the term of President Aquino due to “global spillovers” despite the strong economic growth the country is experiencing.
In an executive summary that the international body recently released, the 7.3 percent unemployment rate in the Philippines for 2013 was the highest among other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and other states in the Pacific region.
Data culled from the Global Employment Trends indicated that until 2017, unemployment would steadily rise to 7.3 percent in 2014, 7.4 percent in 2015, 7.4 percent in 2016 and 7.5 percent in 2017.
“In the Philippines, despite robust economic growth in excess of 6.8 percent in the past two years, job growth has been subdued and the unemployment rate remained at around 7 percent throughout 2012 and 2013,” the ILO report said.
Interestingly, the unemployment rate for the entire Southeast Asian region is forecast to remain at a steady 4.3 percent until 2017.
“GDP [gross domestic product]in the Philippines remained strong… supported by government spending on infrastructure,” the report said.