Thursday, September 14, 2006

Drilon deplores jobless growth despite Palace proclamation

Senator Franklin M. Drilon Wednesday chided Malacañang for continuing to brag about alleged economic gains of government while at the same time failing to address the unemployment and underemployment problem in the country.

"Notwithstanding all the trumpeted economic gains, we have not improved in the past five years in terms of providing decent employment for our people," said Drilon, who is the head of the Senate finance committee.

Drilon made this statement after a Senate briefing last Tuesday of the Development Budget Coordinating Council on the proposed P1.126 trillion national budget for year 2007.

The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) reported a 5.5 percent growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and reported that for the first quarter of 2006, unemployment rate is 11.3 percent and underemployment for the same period is 25.4 percent.

While noting that it was too early to make a serious assessment on Malacañang's proposed 2007 budget, Drilon said most senators would like to look into the specifics of measures such as the improved GDP and its effects on the worsening problem of unemployment and underemployment among Filipinos.

"We don't want to make an assessment at this point," Drilon said. "From the briefing, we can see a respectable GDP growth. However, my impression is that this is what we call a jobless growth," Drilon said.

"Our unemployment problem remains at about 11.4 percent on the average for the past five years. That is about 3.3 million Filipinos unemployed every year. The underemployment is worse. It is about 25 percent, or over eight million Filipinos underemployed, " Drilon explained.

He added, "This is over 11 million unemployed and underemployed out of a workforce of 33 million. This is the worst in the Asean region. We have not improved in the past five years."

The former Senate President noted that while of the country's economic managers have been bragging about an improved GDP growth, majority of the Filipinos remained poor and jobless.

"I will ask these questions because I have always suspected that while we have a respectable GDP growth, the benefits have not trickled down to the economic classes C, D, E and the ordinary Juan dela Cruz is asking, 'what does it mean to me? All these good macro economic indicators, what does it mean to me: do I have a job?" Drilon said.

"It appears that our unemployment rate has been maintained over the past five years, notwithstanding all the trumpeted economic gains," he added.

During the Development Budget Coordinating Council briefing, Drilon asked NEDA Director Romulo Neri: "Would you agree with me that notwithstanding all the gains in the economy that we claimed to have made, our unemployment rate has not changed at all?"

But Neri could only reply that government was now putting emphasis on infrastructure investments to generate employment after focusing on stabilizing the fiscal part of the economy for the first few years

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