PRESIDENT Arroyo has ordered the Department of Public Works and Highways to hasten the implementation of its emergency job creation program after only 20 percent or 100,000 of the available 500,000 jobs have been filled up in the past two months.
Mrs. Arroyo wants the emergency livelihood program implemented in full during the first six months of the year as part of government’s efforts to cushion the impact of the global economic crisis, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said.
“The DPWH reported that of the 500,000 jobs they are supposed to create, only about 100,000 have been filled so far. The President wants this program to be implemented more quickly since we are already within the first quarter of the year,” Remonde said.
“The first six months of the year will be critical. We have to pump-prime the economy and create jobs,” he said.
Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya said last month the government released some P100 billion to four state agencies—including the Public Works Department—to boost infrastructure spending and job generation.
Andaya said the special allotment release orders for the Public Works, Transportation, Education and Agriculture departments represent 60 percent of the budget of the four agencies for infrastructure spending.
The Public Works, headed by Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane, plans to implement some 3,200 infrastructure projects within the first six months of the year worth at least P60 billion.
The department has also doubled the amount that can be quickly disbursed by local district directors in the provinces from P50 million to P100 million for infrastructure projects to cut the red tape in the release of funds.
Last week, President Arroyo also ordered the temporary filling up of vacant plantilla positions in government agencies whose rationalization plans are still pending approval by the Budget Department.
Mrs. Arroyo signed Executive Order 782 directing all government agencies to spend 1.5 percent of their budget for operating expenses for the temporary hiring of qualified displaced workers and their dependents who are registered with the Labor Department.
The President also called on government agencies to “campaign to encourage buoyant industries and companies under their supervision to hire on temporary or fixed, short-term basis DOLE-registered displaced workers and their dependents.”
“Despite the overall resilience of the economy and the willingness of employers to help the affected workers, greater concerted efforts by and between the government and the private sector are necessary to prevent the deepening of the crisis and to quicken recovery,” she said.
With the effect of the global crisis now being felt by the Philippines, Mrs. Arroyo said, “The government must exhibit strong leadership and inspire confidence by contributing to job security of workers and shore up the capacity of the private sector to support this national effort.” – Joyce Pangco, Manila Standard Today