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As unemployment worsens, PNoy's planners to focus on job creation

March 26, 2013 11:52am
The government is preparing an updated version of the Medium-Term Development Plan (MTDP) focusing on people and quality jobs to address the growing number of jobless Filipinos, according to a Cabinet official.

“In this update, we intend to put job creation at the center of the plan,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan told reporters Monday, adding that the MTDP review has been ongoing “for weeks” now.

The revisions would include the financing plan “consistent with development initiatives and priority areas for growth.

“We are synchronizing the two along with new priority lists to be proposed,” said Balisacan, who is also the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director general.

The economic chief noted the review comes midway through Aquino's six-year term, in which creating quality jobs remains the greatest challenge amid robust growth. “It's timely to review the MTDP... This time we want to put jobs creation at the center of the plan,” Balisacan said.

“We wanted to learn the gaps in implementation and areas and ways where we need to improve. And also to look at what areas of the country can we become proactive, so that we can have a greater impact on generating high quality employment,” he noted.

Analysts noted the lack of quality employment as a major challenge facing the Aquino administration despite last year's 6.6-percent gross domestic product growth (GDP)—the fastest in Southeast Asia.

According to the American Center for Law and Social Policy, quality jobs refer to employment that provide decent wages, job security, advancement opportunities, and healthy working environment where workers are treated fairly and have a voice in their daily activities at work and about the overall working conditions.

Latest government data showed the number of Filipinos of working age—15 years old and over—who are either jobless or want to work more hours so they could earn more swelled by 9.26 percent to 10.828 million in January from 9.91 million a year earlier.

“Putting jobs generation at the forefront of the plan is needed, so that we're not assuming that high economic growth is enough,” said Balisacan, noting that consultations with stakeholders, businesses and local governments are ongoing.

Asked when the revisions will be unveiled, Balisacan said, “We hope to have the first done before SONA (State of the Nation Address).”

The review is in line with the President's memorandum order for an update of  the development plan—which was crafted at the start of the Aquino administration in 2010.

University of the Philippines (UP) economist and then-President Joseph Estrada's Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno cited the need for continued spending on infrastructure and power in order “to attract more investments and build industries.”

Fellow UP economist Solita Collas-Monsod, meanwhile, said, “Aligning the government's budget with development goals is what is needed.”

The MTDP 2011-2016 is the Aquino Administration's framework for translating President Aquino's development agenda—based on his “Social Contract with the Filipino People”—into strategies, policies, programs and activities during his term. It was unveiled in early 2011.
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