2022 national budget should also focus on job creation, says Villanueva

2022 national budget should also focus on job creation, says Villanueva

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — With the pandemic still battering the country’s employment
numbers, Sen. Joel Villanueva called on the government to “wring out
as many jobs as possible” from the next year’s P5.02 trillion national
budget.

“We should be creating more jobs out of the buck. This budget should
be a job generator,” Villanueva said.

He said the national budget “should not merely count the pesos we are
spending on public payroll but the most important, in my view, are the
new jobs it should create.”

Villanueva said public spending should not just focus “on the health
emergency we are facing but also in creating emergency employment to
replace ones that the pandemic destroyed.”

“If there is a ‘build, build, build,’ all the more should there be a
‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ program because the latter addresses COVID’s
harshest side effect – the loss of income by many breadwinners,” he
said.

Villanueva said the government “can maximize the ‘EQ,’ or the
employment quotient, of infrastructure spending by mandating
contractors to tap labor from among the qualified residents where the
project is located.”

“For example, mobilizing farmers and paying them to maintain the
irrigation canals that are vital to their livelihood are one way of
providing additional income to the people who feed us,” he said.

He said infrastructure funds, especially on farm projects and health
facilities, should be released promptly and “spared from
underspending.”

“Sa susunod na taon, gagasta po tayo ng P19 billion sa ilalim ng
Health Facilities Enhancement Program. Dapat ito maagang ma-release.
Ito ang mga pasilidad na magliligtas na ng buhay, magbibigay pa ng
trabaho,” Villanueva said.

Another way of creating jobs is for the government “to stop exporting
taxpayer’s money” by buying goods and equipment that are made locally.

“Government should be the first one to patronize Filipino products.
Buying agencies should not act as import facilitators,” he said.

Villanueva pressed anew his proposal for “a kind of spending anchored
on job creation” during Wednesday’s briefing by the economic managers
on the 2022 national budget.

He said the ambitious National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS), a
job creation blueprint unveiled early this year by the administration,
should be monitored and its progress charted.

He said jobs created through NERS should be “counted like COVID cases”
because only through “meticulousness will we be able to know if it is
working or not.”

To have an “honest jobs count,” a scorecard is needed, he said.

“Ayaw po natin na parang ang programang ito ay tila bang attaching a
new label to an old box. Yung parang existing jobs na pala tapos
binilang lang as NERS initiative,” Villanueva said.

With a claimed budget of P1.14 trillion, the NERS was launched through
Executive Order No. 140, which assigns what role participating
agencies play.

Villanueva has filed a bill institutionalizing the TUPAD as a regular
government program that would serve as a safety net for the displaced
workers. (ai/mtvn)

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