Story and photo by Corina Oliquino i FilAm Star Correspondent
MANILA — Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), IBON Foundation on September 11, said at least 300,000 Filipino workers have lost their jobs since Rodrigo Duterte assumed the presidency in June 2016.
The foundation’s Executive Director Sonny Africa said the number of employed individuals decreased to 40.7 million from 41 million in June 2016.
In an interview with GMA News’ Balitanghali, Africa has cited this as the reason why many Filipinos are reeling from the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities as inflation rose to its nine-year high of 6.4 percent.
“Tignan natin ang data. 300,000 ang nawalan ng trabaho. Pinapakita lamang na nahihirapan ang ating agrikultura at iba pang industriya kaya mahal ang presyo ng pagkain. Nabawasan pa ang mga nagtatrabaho sa Pilipinas. Dun sa unemployment rate, hindi pa roon kasama ‘yung mga walang trabaho na hindi na naghahanap ng trabaho sa loob ng anim na buwan,” Africa said.
According to the report, Africa was referring to the government records from PSA’s Labor Force Survey released five days ago, showing that the country’s unemployment rate went down by 5.4 percent.
In a separate statement, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the recent unemployment rate data is the lowest recorded for all surveys conducted in July since 2008.
“As of July 2018, 33,000 lang ang nadagdag na trabaho sa construction. ‘Yan ay sa kabila ng Build, Build, Build program na issue rin ang absorptive capacity ng mag ahensya. Mas malaki pa nga [ang nadagdag na trabaho] sa public sector na umabot sa 76,000,” Africa said.
According to the report, the Government’s Build, Build, Build program aims to fund ₱1 trillion worth of infrastructure projects within the tenure of President Duterte.
“Hindi nasasapul ang problema. Walang inaamin ang gobyerno na may pagkakamali.
Kailangan na maiwasto ito, at hindi lang panay band aid approach. Lahat naghahanap ng palusot kaya nakakalungkot,” Africa said.
Africa also argued that the government should take necessary steps to boost the local agriculture sector, like imposing price controls on basic goods to control the price of oil in the world market.
Africa’s comment aligned with PSA’s data, which show that the main drivers of inflation are prices of electricity, food, operation of transportation vehicle, among others.
On Monday, the proposed Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High Quality Opportunities (TRABAHO) passed third and final reading in the House of Representatives, with the Senate expressing willingness to push for its passage.
Under the measure, top corporate income tax rates will be lowered from 30 to 20 percent. But it would raise the five percent gross income tax paid by other companies to 15 percent to offset the impact on tax revenue.
Moreover, the exception of companies operating inside economic zones from paying the value added tax may also become provisional as it will be tied to factors like the company’s export performance and their level of domestic purchases.
In a report by ABS-CBN News, Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines Vice-president Nobuo Fujii told Kyodo News that should the Philippine government withdraw tax concessions enjoyed by Japanese companies, many may go bankrupt or close their operations there.
“They do not want to expand operations here. It’s the first step for them,” Fujii said.
“Then the second step is to gradually withdraw,” Fujii added, mimicking the attitude of the majority of the members should planned tax reforms come into fruition.
Fujii noted that the potential change with the biggest impact would be if the Philippines began to impose the value added tax on Japanese companies operating inside special economic zones.