MANILA – The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday said the government should create new and more resilient industries to reduce unemployment rates amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda made the statement after it was reported that the April unemployment rate went up to 8.7 percent from the March figure of 7.1 percent.
Salceda said the sharp month-on-month reduction demonstrates that most new jobs remain low-quality and low-security jobs.
He said creating new industries could be encouraged through the Strategic Investment Priorities Plan (SIPP), which is a list of priority industries that will qualify for incentives under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act.
“I urge the Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) to set aside some of their objections with the implementing rules and regulations of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) for now so that the Department of Finance and the Department of Trade and Industry can begin to release the rules in piecemeal,” he said.
He also noted that the government should support sectors where job creation is taking place.
Salceda cited the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector as an example, as it sought help from the government to allow it to maintain its work-from-home arrangements.
“We must find a healthy balance between enforcement of tax and incentives laws and our exceptional circumstances and the economic situation,” he said.
He stressed that healthcare expansion is a must to buy space to avoid lockdowns as Covid-19 cases begin to move from Mega Manila to the provinces.
“First, we must expand treatment, isolation, and testing capacity in the provinces where Covid-19 cases are now increasing. While the number of cases in these lower-density areas are markedly lower than at the height of the Covid-19 surge in Metro Manila, the biggest threat of lockdowns in these areas will come from the inability to treat and isolate patients,” he said.
To sustain long-term job recovery, he said there is no alternative to population protection or herd immunity, adding that “we must encourage vaccine confidence and interest”.
He urged the Civil Service Commission to release guidelines that would allow government employees, including contractuals, to take a paid leave after vaccination, as well as the Department of Labor and Employment to engage employers to find ways to do the same in the private sector.
As for the upcoming deliberations in the proposed 2022 national budget, he said efforts must be guided by the need for growth-enhancing public investments that will create jobs and, over the long-term, pay for themselves through economic returns. (PNA)