7 July 2023 – NEDA: Leave wage setting to regional boards

Published by rudy Date posted on July 12, 2023

The Philippine Star
July 7, 2023 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Wage setting should be left with the regional wage boards instead of having a uniform legislated wage hike, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said, noting that regions have varying conditions.

“We have to be careful about what we are trying to cure or address. I think our response to the economic managers, we would want these wage negotiations to be (done) at the regional level,” NEDA director general Arsenio Balisacan said in an interview this week with ANC’s Business Outlook, when asked to comment on Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri’s plan to push for a P100-wage hike.

Given the different conditions across regions, Balisacan said it is the wage boards that should be responding to the demands of their workers.

“I think it’s wrong for example to have a uniform legislated wage across the board because then you are likely going to penalize those regions where wages are, to begin with, low and they are competitive, they can attract businesses in their regions,” he pointed out.

Last month, the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board in the National Capital Region (NCR) approved an increase of P40 per day for minimum wage workers in the region. The decision to approve the pay hike was based on the average inflation rate.

Zubiri said earlier that while a minimum wage increase in the NCR is a wonderful development for workers, it is not enough. But for Balisacan, the P40 increase “is enough to restore the purchasing power that was lost because of the inflation that started last year.”

“Of course, some others would say that is not enough and so, we could let the other regions adjust accordingly,” Balisacan said.

He said the government is also deploying more targeted assistance programs to mitigate the effect of high prices.

“Those who are badly affected, for example, poor families with only one household income earner but too many children, there must be other ways of assisting them,” he noted.

Among the interventions to be implemented by the government is the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s food stamp program, which is expected to begin pilot implementation this month.

“We intend to roll out in a big way when we already have a system to manage it,” Balisacan said.

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