DOF renews call for passage of pending economic bills

Published October 15, 2021, 1:05 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

The Department of Finance (DOF) said the Philippines needs the passage of key economic reform measures to bring in more capital and spur job creation in the medium- to long-term.

Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran said Friday, Oct. 15, that Congress should pass the amendments to the Foreign Investment Act, Public Service Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act.

Beltran noted that the three economic bills will help bring in more capital, generate more employment with possibly better wages and make the economy more competitive.

The House of Representatives already passed the three economic measures, which President Duterte certified as urgent. But the Senate has yet to approve the Public Service Act amendments.

With less than a year before President Duterte’s term ends, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III had urged Congress to focus on the passage of “doable” economic bills to speed up recovery from the pandemic.

The “doable” economic measures include the Foreign Investment Act, Public Service Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act.

Beltran said the enactment of the three economic bills will help address the increasing unemployment situation in the country.

In August, unemployment rate increased to 8.07 percent from 6.87 percent in July. Of the huge number of job seekers, about 800,000 were unable to find work during the month, Beltran said.

The economy recovered nearly 2.6 million jobs in August compared to July as 1.9 million job seekers found new jobs in agriculture, 625,000 in services, 169,000 in manufacturing and 99,000 in transportation.

“One notable generator of employment is the manufacturing sub-sector. Manufacturing’s total employment as of August topped 3.7 million, the sub-sector’s highest for the year,” Beltran said.

The country’s labor force participation rate also improved in August from 59.81 percent in July to 63.64 percent with 3.376 million job seekers knocking on farm, factory and office gates for employment opportunities.

Underemployment rate also declined substantially from 20.86 percent in July to 14.65 percent the following month as new jobs were found to be better and more stable.

“The threat of the virus and its more virulent Delta variant poses serious challenges to the economy in general and the labor market in particular. The health risks should be managed well and the spread of the virus prevented,” Beltran said.

“Vaccine administration is expected to help deliver individual protection to the population,” he added.

 
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