JOB losses as a result of the global economic meltdown have begun tapering off, with some 14,000 workers retrenched in the first quarter regaining employment in companies that are beginning to recover, an official said yesterday.
Cabinet Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that based on a report of the National Economic and Development Authority, employment-generation programs had also blunted the impact of the economic crisis.
“Secretary [Ralph] Recto said the business process outsourcing industry is robust while other sectors have remained resilient. Job losses are tapering off,” Bello said in an interview after yesterday’s closed-door Cabinet meeting at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City.
Citing government data, Bello said outsourcing companies were expected to produce about 500,000 jobs in Mindanao including South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Saranggani and General Santos City.
“The North Luzon Expressway Phase 2 project is also seen to generate some 100,000 jobs,” Bello said.
Apart from the call center industry, housing, food, retail and tourism remained resilient, Bello said.
Quoting reports from Labor Secretary Marianito Roque, Bello said about 14,000 employees out of the 46,000 who lost their jobs due to the economic crisis had been rehired as of April 5.
On the part of the government, Bello said, some 75,000 workers had already been hired under the Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program.
Bello said that during the Cabinet meeting, Mrs. Arroyo ordered the Public Works Department to ensure that 60 percent of all infrastructure projects be bid out during the first semester.
“She also ordered Public Works chief Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. to ensure that most infrastructure projects were implemented 24/7, and that 60 percent of the farm-to-market roads and irrigation projects in the pipeline until 2010 must be completed during the year,” Bello said.
Government data showed that 46,000 Filipinos had been unemployed at home as of March, while more than 6,000 overseas Filipino workers had lost their jobs.
Also yesterday, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said the administration was more interested in enhancing existing taxes than taxing text messages or the excess profits of telecommunications companies.
Teves expressed optimism that Congress would approve three measures this year—restructuring of the “sin taxes” on cigarets and liquor; the adoption of the simplified net income taxation scheme for professionals and self-employed individuals; and the rationalization of tax incentives for new industries.
Teves said these measures were expected to generate P30 billion to P40 billion in extra revenue a year.
But Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said he doubted the need to raise state revenue from income taxes, and was cautious on the proposed simplified scheme.
“There is no consensus among the senators on whether we should pass this bill. I think it is very hard to surmise that it will pass,” Enrile told reporters. –Joyce Pangco Pañares with Fel V. Maragay, Daily Tribune