Press Release
September 13, 2016

Zubiri urges Duterte administration to speed up infrastructure construction
Create jobs, modernize transport infra

Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri urged the government to speed up infrastructure construction as the best two-pronged strategy to create more jobs and modernize transport infrastructure.

"There are fewer unemployed Filipinos this year, from 2.75 Million (6.5%) in July last year to 5.4% in July this year. That means 2.33 Million able-bodied Filipinos are jobless. Or, one of every 20 employable persons is out of work. That is still too much. There are also 7 Million people looking for additional work due to insecurity, seasonality of jobs or need more income like many of the working poor," Zubiri said.

Zubiri noted, that of the total 2.33 million jobless Filipinos, half (48.2%) are 15-24 years old and 28.2 % are 25-34 years old. "That is a waste of human capital because these are the ages when people are most physically fit and mentally alert. I stress this without devaluing experience and specialization achieved by older workers." According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), our total labor force is 41.342 Million[1] or one-third of 64.936 Million Filipinos aged 15 years and above.

"We have a significant youth bulge. More than half of our 102 Million population are 15-34 years old and many are unemployed. The top three jobless regions are CALABARZON (7.6%), Metro Manila (6.5%) and Northern Mindanao (6.2%). Of the unemployed, one-fifth are college graduates even. These facts give flesh to the United Nations warning that unemployment among the youth in developing countries is an indicator of restlessness and precursor of political instability.[2] Also, the Kidnap-For-Ransom, illegal drugs and other criminal syndicates, insurgent and terrorist groups recruit from the army of unemployed youth," Zubiri explained.

"We should stop this trend by pushing the envelope on job-creation. Let us stop underspending. Last year, the government missed its target infrastructure expenditures of P170 Billion, which is 15.4% of GDP. We spent much less at only 14.4% of GDP. Our economic planners cited poor budget preparation work as a major cause such that the year is almost done and yet much remains unobligated in their budgets."

Zubiri, author of the bills on Mindanao railways (S.B. 120) and Philippine National Railways modernization (S. B. 127), noted that the Senate set Technical Working Group meetings on these. "If we fast-track construction of transport infra, we will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and literally spread the wealth around." Industry provides 17.8% of jobs, with the construction subsector accounting for half or 48.1%. A PSA paper also revealed Construction yields the highest multiplier at 1.92. It means that a one-peso change in the output of Construction generates a 1.92 pesos additional output in the economy.[3] It is estimated that a PhP100 M increase in investments will generate an additional output of approximately PhP193 M.

"On these two railways projects alone, we will create jobs in the top three jobless regions especially among the youth in Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog and Mindanao. Today, they can't find work and are thus prone to become victims of get-rich-quick scams or become trafficked undocumented workers abroad. It is no secret that many of my fellow Mindanaons brave the seas to go to Indonesia and Borneo and end up as workers in vulnerable jobs with low pay, no social benefits and get into trouble with immigration police abroad."

Zubiri stressed that the Mindanao railways and PNR modernization in Luzon "should be started as early as 2017 and finished before the end of the Duterte administration. The local economies will benefit greatly from these priority projects through the just compensation paid to owners of land to be used for the railways, and, higher salaries for workers, engineers and other employees in the logistics and construction sectors. Likewise, feeding and housing the thousands of workers will be potential sources of livelihood for entrepreneurs in those areas. If implemented as soon as possible, this two-pronged strategy to create jobs and improve transport infrastructure will bear fruit before 2022." (000)





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