by Ernie Reyes
MANILA – The administration should see to it that the P5.024 trillion national budget will be a massive “job generation” investment, with every spending leveraged to create as many employment opportunities possible, Senator Joel Villanueva said.
At the plenary deliberations into next year’s national budget, Villanueva also reiterated the importance of having a jobs scorecard to clearly monitor the progress of the government’s National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS) which targets to restore lost jobs and create new opportunities.
“If the target is two million jobs, where will these be coming from? What particular industries are we talking about? We just want to find out if there’s already a concrete plan. We can even break it down to provinces and regions, and find out whether it is working,” Villanueva asked the bill’s sponsor, Senator Sonny Angara, who agreed on the idea of a jobs scorecard.
He said the NERS, which the government launched in May, should “install a job count mechanism” in the 2022 national budget.
“Hindi lang po dapat piso at sentimo ang binibilang, o kilometro at bilang ng mga gusaling ipinatayo, ngunit dapat may kwenta din sa mga trabahong nalilikha,” Villanueva said. “Yung flipside ng Build, Build, Build ay Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. Let the latter be a measurable program.”
Villanueva explained that a “more jobs for the buck” approach would mean that the bulk of 2022 public expenditures will not end up in paying our creditors “but in the pay envelopes” of people whose jobs were made possible by the national budget.
“Ito pong budget natin para sa susunod na taon ay dapat gawing instrument para matapos na ang ‘jobless growth,’” said Villanueva, chairman of the Senate labor committee.
He was referring to the 7.1 percent spike on year-on-year GDP growth in the 3rd quarter of 2021, while employment numbers plummeted.
Average monthly employment dropped sharply by 1.2 million from 44.4 million in the second quarter of 2021 to just 43.2 million in the third quarter.
Villanueva said a budget provision that will mandate agencies to buy goods from domestic producers whose price and product quality are competitive will “cascade down to jobs created.”
“Itigil na po muna ang import business ng mga kumpanyang tumitiba sa malalaking kontrata sa gobyerno,” he said.
Another way of generating grass roots employment is to implement the law which prescribes that half of non-skilled workers be hired from among the residents of where the project is implemented.
“If local workforce is mobilized, they are invested in the project which leads them to do work fast, plus there is the bonus that they will serve as ground monitors who will see to it that projects will be built according to standards,” he said
Buying more from cooperatives, like the previous Department of Education practice of sourcing desks from PWD cooperatives would help sectors hard hit by the pandemic, Villanueva added
“Pati rin po yung sa mga child feeding programs natin, dapat pong gawin preference ang pagbili ng locally-produced goods kaysa mga pagkain na galing sa ibang bansa,” Villanueva said. (mtvn)