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Solon wants 10% of local infra budget earmarked for jobs assistance

A least 10 percent of the budget for local infrastructure projects should be earmarked for the employment of workers who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, a lawmaker said Friday.

Representative Edgar Mary Sarmiento of Samar made the pitch under his House Bill 7591 or the Employment Generation Through Infrastructure Investment Program.

“Instead of giving dole-outs, the government should provide work for those who are willing to toil and get their hands dirty. This proposal could provide the much-needed lifeline for many Filipinos, particularly the overseas Filipino workers whose contracts were not renewed and those who went back to their provinces without work opportunities,” Sarmiento said in a statement.

Sarmiento said that the 10 percent of the total project cost for local infrastructure projects will be allotted for COVID-19 Items of Work which would involve minor construction work such as, but not limited to, construction of footpaths, construction/rehabilitation/ improvement of sanitation facilities, construction/ rehabilitation of community facilities, installation of small-scale water supply systems of schools, etc.

Sarmiento’s proposal tasks the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as the main implementing agency of the program, in close cooperation with local government units.

“We have long known that infrastructure investment creates a multiplier effect which substantially boosts economic growth. The bill creates a mechanism wherein local infrastructure investment will directly translate into job generation,” Sarmiento said.

NEDA Director-General Karl Chua earlier said that from 17 percent unemployment rate in April, it has since gone down to 10 percent in July amid eased quarantine protocols that allowed mass transport and work resumption in industries outside the essential sectors.

Chua also said that while 8.8 million Filipino lost jobs from January to April this year, 7.5 million Filipinos regained employment from May to July. — DVM, GMA News