Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Philippine Gov’t agencies told to rush infra projects

Emilia Narni J. David
BusinessWorld Online

THE PRESIDENT has again ordered government agencies to rush job-generating projects, especially those whose funds have already been released, after it was found that only 100,000 new jobs have been created in the first quarter.

The government and the private sector have committed to create one million new jobs this year to counter the effects of the global economic downturn, with state agencies shouldering the bulk, at 800,000.

While there is no quarterly target, the government should create at least 200,000 jobs every three months to meet the job-creation goal. The Palace was concerned over the pace of job creation, Press Secretary Cerge M. Remonde said yesterday.

Government agencies have already been ordered to fast-track all infrastructure projects and "front-load" them, meaning projects should be implemented early in the year.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), tasked to create 500,000 jobs, admitted that there are some delays.

"There is a slight delay in the bidding for the projects that we have front-loaded mainly because there are some changes in the projects due to field conditions, but we are confident that we will still be able to get projects done," DPWH Undersecretary Ramon P. Aquino told reporters.

Bidding for projects will end this month but delays will not affect the schedule, he added.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) noted that there are no quarterly or semestral job-generation targets.

DoLE assistant secretary for policy, programs and international affairs Reydeluz D. Conferido said the government was still on track in terms of providing jobs.

"I have not heard of any specific targets for each quarter or semester, but we want to be able to generate on the part of the government 700,000 to 800,000 jobs for 2009. In terms of infrastructure ... we are on track ... it is always slow in the beginning but once the project gets off the ground, generation of jobs becomes faster," Mr. Conferido said in a telephone interview.

He acknowledged that the directive of the President is to generate as many jobs as early as possible.

Donald G. Dee, chairman emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also said the private sector was doing its best.

"Realistically, the market is bad right now, but we are focusing on creating as much jobs as we can despite that. But we also need the government’s help in training and beginning the infrastructure projects," he said.

The business process outsourcing sector still has around 470,000 jobs left unfilled, the DoLE said.

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