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ADB OKs $500-M loan to boost Philippines' labor market recovery

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Thursday said it approved a $500-million policy-based loan to assist the Philippines in addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the labor market.

Lodged under the Post-COVID-19 Business and Employment Recovery Program, the loan aims to provide the government assistance in liberalizing the business and investment environment to boost employment.

It also aims to support initiatives that expand labor market programs that address skills mismatches and promote training to reskill and retool workers so they can meet the current demands of the job market.

"With the economy slowly moving towards a sustainable growth path, it is important to ensure private enterprises are supported with policies that make it easier for them to do business and generate employment," ADB senior public management economist Sameer Khatiwada said in a statement. 

"This program is expected to help create jobs, get businesses back into action, and pave the way for displaced workers, youth, and women to return to the labor market by enhancing their skills through training and linking them to good quality jobs," he added.

The number of jobless Filipinos stood at 2.18 million last November, down from the 2.24 million recorded in the previous month, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. 

This translated to an unemployment rate of 4.2%, the lowest since April 2005, indicating that the country has reached levels seen prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ADB, however, noted that the labor market recovery "remains uneven" as wage employment in private establishments is still lower than pre-pandemic levels, while informal employment remains higher.

"The new loan program will help the government implement the NERS and achieve its targets to raise employment by 2023. ADB assisted the government in facilitating dialogue with key industry stakeholders on designing the NERS," the multilateral lender said.

The ADB was referring to the National Employment Recovery Strategy launched in May 2021, which aims to improve the access of workers to jobs, livelihoods, and training programs and support the private sector in boosting employment opportunities.

Last month, the ADB announced the approval of a $100-million loan to modernize and upgrade the country’s technical and vocational education training system and another $175-million loan to finance three new bridges over the Marikina River. —VBL, GMA Integrated News