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Labor group seeks job creation stimulus equal to 10% of GDP

The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition on Friday called for higher funding for the recovery efforts from the COVID-19 crisis to stimulate job creation as the country saw a record-high unemployment rate in April.

“Nagkaisa is calling for a recovery funding of not less than 10% of the GDP to ensure that employment and income support for workers are guaranteed; public healthcare is radically improved, and the economy is organized based on new areas of growth and not on the business as usual approach,” the group said in a statement.

“Now more than ever the best social program that the government must initiate is to stimulate the economy and create good jobs,” it added.

Nagkaisa made the statement after the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that the unemployment rate rose to record-high 17.7%, equivalent to 7.3 million unemployed Filipinos in the labor force in April 2020.

“While the unemployment numbers are sadly expected, the actual survey results are really mind-boggling as they also include a big number of workers, a total of 13 million, who are employed but not at work,” the group said.

“Add that to the 7.3 million who are unemployed and the 6.4 million underemployed and we have a total of 29.7 million – a whopping 71% of the labor force - whose work and income hang in the balance,” it added.

The group said that the record-high unemployment rate also showed that despite the broad emergency powers given to President Rodrigo Duterte under the Bayanihan Act, the overall response seems not only lacking but possibly misplaced as in the case of a mainly militarized health approach, including the recent prioritization of terror bill over pending stimulus packages.

“The first P250 billion to P305 billion that was rolled out for social amelioration and health service prove not enough as this is only equivalent to 1.6% of GDP,” Nagkaisa said.

“The additional P140B standby fund approved in the second reading in the Senate and the P1.3 trillion approved in the same reading in the House of Representatives are as little reassuring as the finance department, according to reports, would reject any stimulus higher than P130 billion,” it added. — DVM, GMA News