Job creation proceeds slowly but surely — gov’t

Published by rudy Date posted on January 29, 2009

Government’s anti-hunger program has allowed new job opportunities for nearly 1.4 million unemployed or underemployed poor folk last year, the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) announced recently.

Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) has moved to get the cooperation of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FFCCCII) in the re-employment of workers who would be displaced by the global economic slowdown.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito Roque said he has entered into a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with FFCCCII president John Tan last week providing for cooperation in the placement of displaced workers among the Chamber’s member-firms nationwide.

Roque said the DoLE is set to enter into similar agreements with other employers’ groups to facilitate and ensure the re-employment of displaced workers and, thus, mitigate the adverse impact of the crisis on them.

Similarly, officials of the Cagayan Export Zone Authority (Ceza) in Sta. Ana town in Cagayan see labor-intensive construction projects that would offset the job losses created by the stoppage of the formerly lucrative used-car-import businesses there.

NAPC Secretary Domingo Panganiban said the new jobs were created through the expansion of micro-finance services, the construction and maintenance of farm infrastructure, coconut inter-cropping and aggressive rice-seeds subsidy and skills-training programs.

The figures were based on the 2008 accomplishment report of the Accelerated Hunger Mitigation Program (AHMP) submitted by the National Nutrition Council to NAPC.

“NAPC will lead a Forum on Hunger Mitigation, Population Management and Poverty Reduction at the Institute of Small-Scale Industries at University of Philippines-Diliman this week to assess the government’s pro-poor and anti-hunger policies and targets for 2009. Key government officials, the basic sectors, and representatives from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization and the UN Population Fund are expected to attend,” Panganiban said.

NAPC Assistant Secretary Dolores de Quiros Castillo, meanwhile, reported the government’s micro-finance program had created more than a million new jobs for the poor as of July last year. “Another 292,372 poor folk were trained for higher-paying jobs through the government’s various skills-training programs,” she added.

Castillo added that 38,507 rural workers found new earning opportunities through the Coconut Inter-cropping Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA); 10,761 more workers were hired for irrigation projects; and another 26,326 were put to work on roadside maintenance projects.

At the Ceza, the stoppage brought about by the lapse of the temporary restraining order preventing the implementation of an executive order banning the entry of foreign used cars through the country’s ports had resulted in the idling of some 1,000 workers inside the free port since October last year.

But Ceza authorities led by administrator Jose Mari Ponce said that despite the ongoing economic downtrend brought about by the financial crisis worldwide they see development activities inside the free port as well as the entry of more business investors that would widen employment opportunities in the area.

The car importation business inside the Ceza had been affected by allegations that it was being used as a staging point for the smuggling of second-hand foreign luxury cars, something which Ceza and the members of the Automotive Rebuilding Industries of Cagayan vehemently deny.

The Ceza identified the businesses opening shop inside the free port as those engaged in the call center and medical transcription businesses, gaming and tourism, shipping and construction.

The putting up of various projects inside the Ceza area including multimillion-peso hotel and gaming complexes, as well as construction activities for a billion-peso airport are also expected to generate more employment especially for locals in the area.

Another construction project mentioned were a P1.4-billion breakwater project at Port Irene, the area’s international port.

Ted Boehnert and PNA

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