Former Vice President and senatorial aspirant Jejomar Binay on Thursday (Dec. 9) said the national government must focus on further boosting the financial confidence of the people for the economy to effectively jump back to its pre-pandemic level even as the world continues to battle COVID-19.
“Government needs to inspire confidence in the economy. It needs to encourage people to begin spending again. That could take some time, especially when you have over three million out of work, seven million underemployed, and millions of families still mired in poverty,” Binay said.
“They cannot be expected to spend because whatever little money they have goes to basic necessities. The emergence of new variants further complicates any long-term program for economic and social recovery,” he added.
Binay said that a sustained program to increase the spending power of those severely affected by the pandemic such as poor families, the elderly, and other vulnerable sectors, the unemployed and underemployed workers, and small entrepreneurs must be developed.
He added that this can be done through the distribution of cash aid, food subsidies, free medical care including medicines, interest-free loans, income tax breaks, and other forms of government assistance that can ease their burdens until they financially recover and the economy bounces back.
“Needless to state, this would require a shift in budget priorities to address the people’s social needs during the pandemic,” Binay said.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the number of unemployed persons in the country grew to 3.5 million in October, higher compared to the 3.07 million recorded in July but lower than the 3.81 million reported in October 2020.
“Sa populasyon ng 15 taong gulang pataas, ang bilang ng nasa labor force o mga indibidwal na employed o unemployed ay naitala sa 47.33 million nitong Oktubre 2021 (In the population of those 15 years old and above, the number of those included in the labor force, individuals who are either employed or unemployed, is pegged at 47.33 million this October 2021),” National Statistician Dennis Claire Mapa said.