World Economy

Philippines Economy Improving

Members of Kilusang Mayo Uno march on Labor Day, May 1.Members of Kilusang Mayo Uno march on Labor Day, May 1.

A Philippines official said on Monday that the latest social weather stations survey showing dip in adult joblessness validated the efforts of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to improve the economy.

“The latest social weather stations (SWS) survey showing adult joblessness at 22.9% in March 2017, which is 2.2% below the 25.1% last December 2016, is an affirmation of the significant strides of the Duterte administration in sustaining the country’s robust economic growth and making it inclusive,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement on Labor Day, GMA News reported.

He then highlighted the importance of the Duterte administration’s ambitious goal to reach the Golden Age of Infrastructure in improving the economy and job creation.

“The government’s increased investments in infrastructure will usher in the Golden Age of Infrastructure through our Build-Build-Build campaign which is expected to employ millions of Filipinos in the next five years and spur economic activities by stimulating countryside development,” Abella said.

“The new roads, bridges and railways would make the flow of commodities and services cost and time efficient thereby expanding the domestic economy,” he added.

However, Abella did not address in his statement the dip in net optimism on job prospects to 44% from 48% of 2016’s fourth quarter.

 Demand for More Pay

Activist groups and labor unions on Monday greeted Labor Day with rallies to call for an end to contractual labor and for a higher minimum wage.

 Kilusang Mayo Uno and other organizations under the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, including urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap, marched with an effigy of a vulture that represented the US and the neoliberal policies that it promotes.

Broadly, neoliberalism is an economic model that emphasizes free-market economics that its critics believe contributes to a decrease in public services and an increase in privatization. Those opposed to neoliberal policies say the approach focuses on profits and not on the people’s welfare and development.

The groups called for an end to labor contractualization, where workers work short-term contracts and do not qualify for employees’ benefits. They also called for a nationwide increase in the minimum wage to P750 ($14.94) a day. The minimum wage varies per region, from a high of P491 a day in the capital region to around P235 in the autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao, according to the department of labor and employment.

 Aside from labor issues, the groups also protested land grabbing by large corporations and alleged US interference in Philippine affairs.


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