July 12, 2019
THE country’s economy slowed down under the Duterte administration, according to independent think-tank Ibon Foundation.
It said poverty and unemployment also worsened.
“Gusto naming pabulaanan ang claim ng economic managers na robust ang economic growth at may momentum. Ang reality, since the start of the Duterte administration, bumabagal ang ekonomiya (We want to dispute the claim of economic managers that the economic growth is robust and has momentum.
The reality is that the economy has slowed down since the start of the Duterte administration),” Ibon Foundation Executive Director Sonny Africa said in a news conference on Thursday.
Ibon said data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the gross domestic product growth slowed down from 7.1 percent during the third quarter of 2016 to 5.6 percent during the first quarter of 2019. While a momentary increase of 7.2 percent was registered in the third quarter of 2017, growth “rapidly fell” afterwards.
Africa attributed the slowdown to reliance on external drivers such as overseas remittances and business process outsourcing (BPO) for the past decade rather than focusing on developing the agriculture and domestic manufacturing.
“Ang (The) main drivers of growth ay ‘yung (is the) real estate construction boom from overseas remittances and BPOs, facilitated by loan interest rates. Since 2016, nawala na ang mga salik na ‘yun, tumaas ang interest rates, bumagal ang remittances, bumagal ang BPO investments (these factors were lost, interest rates increased, remittances and BPO investments have slowed down),” he explained.
Meanwhile, Ibon believed that the measure of the economy should not only be based on statistics of economic growth or credit ratings, but on how they translate to jobs and wages of the common people.
“Ang usapin ng ekonomiya, may sapat na trabaho at kita ba ang karaniwang Pilipino. In reality, kulang ang trabaho sa bansa, hindi sumasapat ang kanilang kita para sa kanilang pangangailangan (The discussion on economy should include adequate jobs and wages for the common people. In reality, there is a lack of jobs in the country, salaries are not enough to sustain needs),” Africa said.
Ibon said the Duterte administration was the worst when it came to job-generation and the “stingiest” in giving wage hikes.
For its midyear assessment, Ibon said based on the computation of the “original definition of unemployment for comparability,” the unemployment rate in 2018 was 10.1 percent, while the number of unemployed was 4.6 million as opposed to the official report of only 5.3 percent and 2.3 million, respectively. This, according to Ibon, was worse than the foundation’s computation of 9-percent unemployment rate and 4 million unemployed in 2016.
It added that the current administration had the least frequent wage hikes and lowest pay increases after the Marcos regime
In the National Capital Region, there was only one wage hike in 18 months, lower than the rate in previous administrations that ranged from 1 in 16 months under Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and one in 10 months under Fidel Ramos.
Wage increases were also nominal at 9.4 percent compared to a range of 11.5 percent under the administration of Benigno Aquino 3rd and 45.9 percent under Corazon Aquino, the think tank said.
Africa believes that substantial wage increases are possible because employers have sufficient profits.
“Hindi kami sang-ayon doon sa argument ng employers na hindi nila ma-afford ‘yung wage hike at pabigat doon sa micro/small enterprises (We do not agree with the argument of employers that they cannot afford a wage hike and that it would burden micro/small enterprises),” Africa said.
He added that government could support small enterprises for the hike through benefits such as tax credits, cheaper loans and trainings to improve work productivity to be able to afford wage hike.
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