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Attract investors and generate jobs

With the new year, business organizations in the country are eyeing and wishing for a better 2021 as the previous year a lot of challenges and uncertainties were encountered due to the coronavirus pandemic that devastated the economy.

Big businesses suffered huge losses due to the stringent measures imposed by the government to contain the spread of the pandemic disease but are starting to bounce back with the gradual reopening of the country’s economy.

Nonetheless, there are some factors which government have to address to get rid of some hindrances in attracting more domestic and foreign investments to pour in such as real implementation of “Ease in Doing Business” that would promote transparency and efficiency in government doing business processes.

The country’s ranking has improved significantly since 2013, jumping 43 notches. Currently, the Philippines ranks 95th out of the 189 countries that were covered by the Doing Business survey, from 124th last year, according to Doing Business 2020 report.

Among the ASEAN member states, Singapore still leads followed by Malaysia and Thailand. The Philippines remained at 7th place followed by Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar for both 2019and 2020, the same report added.

Apparently, businesses are asking for more from government such as relaxation of business regulations to attract more business enterprises to come in and in order for the economy to return to normalcy which will allow local businesses to bounce back under the socalled “new normal”.

Predicated on this, trade unions and organized labor is not against this set-up as long as government’s commitment to core labor standards are not being compromised.

“The core labor standards are a set of four fundamental, universal and indivisible human rights: Freedom from forced labor; Freedom from child labor; Freedom from discrimination at work; Freedom to form and join a union, and to bargain collectively”.

Those are separate from the eight ILO fundamental Conventions. The Philippines has ratified 38 ILO Conventions of which 30 are in force. These include all fundamental Conventions covered by the 1998 Declaration on the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

The 8 fundamental Conventions are: 1) Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention, 1948 (No.87); 2) Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98); 3) Forced Labor Convention, 1930 (No. 29) and its 2014 Protocol; 4) Abolition of Forced Labor Convention, 1957 (No. 105); 5) Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138).

Added to the list, 6) Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention, 1999 (No.182); 7) Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100); and, 8) Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1968 (No. 111).

Rising amid the pandemic. “We sorely need investments in the field of agriculture and manufacturing – massive and sufficient – to generate and sustain employment’, thus said House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco reported Daily Tribune.

Consequently, the situation is amplified by the rising number of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) who returned to the country after being laid off due to the pandemic disease only to find similar limited sources of income, Speaker Velasco noted.

Still, about 14.4 precent of Filipinos are seeking jobs as more were laid off due to businesses severely affected by the pandemic, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) report revealed.

Surveys indicated the average jobless rate for 2020 was 10.4 percent or 4.5 million people, the highest since 2005, added the PSA report.

Nevertheless, the same PSA report mentioned that the October data, equivalent to3.8 million jobless individuals was almost twice the 4.6 percent in the same period last year but below the record 17.6 percent in April.

To address the factors that may have hindered the success of some industries, Speaker Velasco’s antidote of luring investors to create additional employment opportunities is to introduce amendments to some existing laws that will relax the restrictive provisions for foreign capital.

Equally important, I would like to take this opportunity by chanting Pit Señor to all my friends and readers alike as we celebrate our annual celebration, in honor of Señor Santo Niño – a celebration of faith, a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of our faith.