For presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo, there is no doubt that economic recovery coupled with job security and employment opportunities is key in addressing the effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
As she addressed the 47th Philippine Business Conference and Exposition of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) on Wednesday, Nov. 17, to talk about her “Kalayaan sa COVID (Freedom from COVID)” platform, Robredo stressed that her administration will invest heavily in the agricultural sector.
Agriculture, she noted, is linked to food, job security, and employment. She wants to strengthen the industry and, instead of focusing on the importation of goods, vowed to “prioritize strengthening local production”.
“Despite lockdowns, despite production dipping across all sectors, agriculture actually grew last year. It has been resilient in the face of the pandemic; imagine how much more it can grow if we give it enough funding,” Robredo told the participants in the virtual forum.
“But we do not have to just imagine: Under my administration, we will see it for ourselves. We will double funding for agriculture from 1.7 percent of the national budget today to 3.4 percent by 2028. We will ensure this money is well-spent and balanced across all agricultural sectors and stakeholders in the country,” she said.
Job security and employment are deeply ingrained in the Vice President’s “Kalayaan sa COVID” plan, a 10-point agenda that explains in details how she will address three key issues that the new administration will face: pandemic, hunger, and education.
Noting that unemployment has reached an “alarming rate now” at 8.9 percent or equivalent to 4.25 million jobless Filipinos, Robredo said her priority is to protect existing jobs and create new ones.
One of the proposals she has been pushing for is a conditional stimulus package for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) “hinged on the condition that they do not lay off workers.”
To create jobs, the opposition standard-bearer highlighted the need to make sure that “policies are dependable and predictable”.
“Foreign and domestic investments, we all know, will only dramatically rise if we have the necessary infrastructure and logistics for them to thrive. To do this, we need to offer a stable and strong political and economic climate,” Robredo said, adding that her administration will prioritize the lowering of power rates and utility costs, as well as improving mass transport.
For small businesses to thrive, she emphasized the need for the “necessary environment” wherein “everyone is given a level playing field” through training, reskilling, and upskilling the workforce.
Robredo also mentioned an increase in the budget of outdoor parks and bike lanes from the current P1.6 billion to around P14 billion.
She earlier mentioned that the reason parents are bringing their kids to indoor spaces such as malls is because the country lacks outdoor economic activities and infrastructures.
The pandemic has highlighted the need for these outdoor spaces, she said. As such, she plans to build more of these spaces for outdoor economic activity such as markets.
Robredo invited the conference’s participants to access her website, www.lenirobredo.com, to know more about her recovery plan, but added that she will be discussing these with them in detail during a forum scheduled tomorrow, Nov. 18.