Malacañang can downplay or sneer at the recent SWS survey showing that the country’s unemployment has worsened, but the government can never elude a simple fact – its economics is not working for the working class!
The SWS survey merely proved what the trade unions and civil society have been saying all along… the spectacular economic “growth” is not redounding to the benefit of the majority poor. On the contrary, what we have is comparable to an “immiserizing growth” or an ironic situation where growth causes further misery; a theoretical situation first proposed in 1958 by Jagdish Bhagwati, an Indian-American economist.
Why? Because President Aquino and his economic team have merely continued the economic policies of the previous administrations – a market-oriented policy that emphasizes privatization, deregulation and liberalization, which has miserably failed to generate much-needed jobs – quality and decent jobs.
Worse, the Aquino government is even bent on destroying jobs through its privatization program, including in the public health sector, and its drive to sell electric cooperatives to profit-motivated corporations.Thousands of workers in the public sector are threatened by the privatization of several public hospitals; more than 900 in the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) only. This is aside from further depriving the poor and indigent patients from availing of either free or “cheap” but quality medical services. Meanwhile, at least 25,000 jobs are threatened by NEA’s corporatization drive in the ECs.
SENTRO believes that to solve the country’s intractable poverty, full employment should take center stage in government’s policy-making. This means that all policy instruments – fiscal, monetary, investment, trade and development policies – should have job creation and job preservation as its goal. In short, what is needed is an alternative development paradigm. Sadly, the current PDP (Philippine Development Program) is sorely lacking in imagination, as it seems to merely provide a slightly updated version of the same old neoliberal prescriptions.
Government has to step up the development of an active agro-industrial policy that would pave the way towards full employment. Joblessness cannot be solved by relying heavily on the services sector and the BPOs; in fact, last October, services workers account for a huge 53.4 percent of those who were employed. Indeed, good quality jobs could be generated from a strong industrial base, particularly manufacturing, and a vibrant agriculture – old but reliable “success formula” proven throughout the world.These growth drivers could ensure quality employment, meaning jobs with job security, respectful of workers’ rights, and provide mandated benefits.