Gov't eyes strategy to reduce poverty, create jobs

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 12 2014 06:10 PM | Updated as of Feb 13 2014 02:10 AM

MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino has directed the cabinet to step up government programs to reduce poverty and create jobs in provinces where poverty incidence is high.

"Intensify programs on job creation and social protection in the most needy and vulnerable provinces," Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma quoted the President as saying during Tuesday's cabinet meeting.
Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan pointed out that while the country's economy is growing, "we lag with respect to our social outcomes."
Gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013 reached 7.2 percent with fixed capital formation increasing by 21.1 percent.
But unemployment rate was at 7.1 percent, with poverty incidence still at 25.2 percent. This is still higher than the Millennium Development Goal to reduce poverty incidence by half, from 33.2 percent in 1991 to 16.6 percent by 2015.
The cabinet cluster on human development and poverty reduction plans to create more "economic opportunities" in provinces with the most number of poor households, "enhance mobility of labor and goods" in provinces where the proportion of poor families is high, and "increase resilience" in provinces most vulnerable to disasters.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Gregory Domingo said the DTI will work on increasing competitiveness in sectors "with high employment multipliers," referring to shipbuilding, food processing, furniture, chemicals, automotive, copper and copper products, electronics and garments, with "continuing support" to be given to the IT-BPO sector.
"DTI will also pursue initiatives in further improving the ease of doing business and lowering power costs to enhance employment and job creation," Coloma said.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the Department of Labor and Development (DOLE) will help in job matching, job placement, and facilitate mobility of professionals.
"In line with ASEAN integration, DOLE is also promoting the mobility of professionals in up to 46 professions through mutual recognition agreements or MRAs with other countries," Coloma said.
Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) will be on hand, he said, to help develop skills.
Quoting Vice President Binay, Coloma said that the HUDCC will provide housing assistance to 561,932 families, estimated to cost P103.1 billion from 2014 through 2016.
"Three priority sectors will be assisted: informal settler families, calamity victims and low-salaried government employees," Coloma said.
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Soliman said family-beneficiaries under the conditional cash transfer program "will be given sustainable livelihood opportunities and expanded educational and health grants."