Palace unveils blueprint for stimulus jobs, projects

Published by rudy Date posted on February 10, 2009

THE government will allocate P25.12 billion to create 1.3 million new jobs and to send nurses to 1,000 of the poorest municipalities and “green-collar” workers to work in environment-related projects.

The decision to increase the funding for job and livelihood creation is contained in a joint communique that was signed by Labor Secretary Marianito Roque and 137 representatives from the business, labor and academic sectors, Church-based groups, and non-government organizations during yesterday’s jobs summit in Malacañang.

Of the total amount, some P21.5 billion—or about 1.5 percent of the 2009 budget—will be spent for the temporary hiring of displaced workers and their dependents for “green-collar jobs” and the Nurses Assigned in Rural Areas program.

“We will put all budget-funded energy-dependence, environment jobs and clean energy initiatives that the newly signed Renewable Energy Act can unleash in one box called green collar jobs,” President Arroyo said in her opening statement at yesterday’s summit.

She said the green collar jobs would cover those who will be hired under the P2-billion reforestation fund, for coastal cleanup and bay watch groups, jatropha planting, retrofitting of tricycles with liquefied petroleum gas, designating bike lanes, and village electrification using solar panels.

The President also encouraged local government units to provide a counterpart salary of P2,000 for the nurses, who will be tapped under the NARS program to bring their salaries to P10,000, of which 80 percent would be shouldered by the national government.

“Nurses who have low overseas demand for their services due to lack of training shall be mobilized in their hometowns,” she said.

“There they will initiate primary health, school nutrition and maternal health programs, inform the community about water sanitation practices, and immunize children and their mothers.”

Five nurses would be deployed in each of the 1,000 poorest municipalities for two six-month tours of duty, the President said.

She said at least 6,000 short-term jobs for the youth had also been opened up under the Youth Employment in Summer program for the povert-mapping project of the Social Welfare Department.

Mrs. Arroyo said she had also approved a package of measures aimed at protecting workers and companies affected by the global credit crisis, including a one-year condonation of penalties for loans from the Social Security System and fuel subsidies for employees working in the economic zones.

The President said state banks would boost loans to address the tightness of credit.

But Mrs. Arroyo left the proposed moratorium on wage hikes and other economic benefits to the regional wage and productivity boards for review.

“This is a time when government, business and labor must join hands against the global crisis so that it does not become a crisis in the Philippines,” the President said.

“We must not neglect those who feel the hardships of the global downturn, especially firms under strain and workers facing layoffs.”

In the communique, the stakeholders also agreed to adopt the following safety nets:

• P1 billion in livelihood programs under the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines

• P1-billion in loans under the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration for retrenched Filipino workers who want to start their own businesses here

• P1.38 billion under the Environment Department for displaced workers in upland areas

• P3.5 million for the Energy Department’s micro-finance program for the transport sector

• P402 million for the Labor Department’s integrated livelihood program

• P50 million for the Labor Department’s re-integration program.

The stakeholders expect at least 1.3-million jobs to be created, including 100,000 jobs for the repair of classrooms and school buildings, 506,082 jobs for infrastructure projects under the Public Works Department, 81,134 jobs for the Agriculture Department’s irrigation projects, and at least 100,000 jobs for the business process outsourcing sector.

At the 9th e-Services Global Oursourcing Conference yesterday, industry officials said companies laying off thousands of workers in advanced economies were creating new jobs in low-cost destinations such as the Philippines.

Peter Bendor Samuel, chief executive of the global consulting company Everest Group, said two million jobs would open up in business process outsourcing in the next five years. “Some of that may go to the Philippines,” he said.

At the same time, at least 400,000 new jobs abroad were also available, Roque said, citing the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

“We have to upgrade recruitment practices to address the problem of jobs-skills mismatch and the conduct of jobs fairs to facilitate access to job vacancies,” the communique read.

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya said the government was ready to allow the budget deficit to hit P140 billion—or about 2 percent of the gross domestic product—in anticipation of lower tax collections this year. –Joyce Pangco Pañares with Roderick T. dela Cruz and Bloomberg, Manila Standard Today

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