Labor group Federation of Free Workers warned that more workers will lose their jobs this year than last year if government does not step in and fund job facilitation programs as many small and medium enterprises, that comprise a majority of firms nationwide, would not be able to survive the downturn in business due to the pandemic.
“Our appeal is for a robust budget to address unemployment. If there is no intervention, the economy would fall and small companies would fold up, plunging workers further into poverty,” FFW president Sonny Matula said in a virtual briefing last week.
“If people don’t have money to spend, the economy won’t run even with a relaxing of the quarantine. There should be stimulus funding,” Matula added. He noted that it would be highly unlikely for the private sector to pour in new investments with the coronavirus disease pandemic yet to be controlled.
FFW stressed that only government has the capability to implement measures that could boost the economy and generate more employment.
On the other hand, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello expressed optimism that local employment prospects would continue to improve in 2021. He expects the government’s infrastructure projects that are going full blast this year to create more jobs.
The FFW and the labor secretary may disagree on employment prospects for this year, but it is apparent that the private and public sector will have to work together to boost the economy, generate more employment, and push the country to a road to recovery this 2021.
The country has to do everything it can to remain competitive and not use the pandemic as an excuse for further failures because other countries are already in advanced stages of economic recovery or have already recovered, and if we do nothing again this year, the Philippines will be left even further behind.*