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Labor official fights back says govt indicators dispel IBON claim on infra project

AN official of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said excess demand for workers and improvement of wages mean that the “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) flagship program of the government is effective.

Labor Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad made this comment after Ibon Foundation took a swipe at the government’s infrastructure program, calling it an ineffective platform for job creation.

Lagunzad said the employment surplus of workers and an increase in their salaries in the construction sector are indicators that President Rodrigo Duterte’s program is successful.

“Objective indicator is if the workers’ salary increased in sub sector, construction. Remember that is economics, if there is an excess demand for workers for BBB, I’m talking of carpenters, plumbers, electricians, masons, etc,” he said in an interview on Monday. “If there is excess demand and that the wages tend to go up, that means it is effective in that sense.”

Lagunzad noted that the surplus in the demand for workers has been reported by other sectors, including the manufacturing sector.

“What are the other indicators? Manufacturing companies are already looking for workers in other regions because they cannot get workers here. They have to go to as far as Bicol as the labor here are hired in BBB and some go abroad. So, objectively you’re already looking, you’re seeing already the effects of an excess demand for workers in that sub sector,” he said.

“Obviously, the billions and billions that go into construction will necessarily produce demand for more workers, more investments, more demand for labor so that is as far as labor market is concerned,” the DOLE official added.

On the criticism that construction jobs under the project is seasonal, Lagunzad explained that those who benefited from projects, which have been completed, are not left alone since it is a continuous cycle.

“Hindi naman ganun yun eh, it’s a continuous cycle. Halimbawa, ang mga backward linkages. ‘Yung negosyo ng hardware, pako, bakal, cement hindi ba lumalago ‘yun dahil nga may nagko-construct? So, dito sa backward link ang daming demand n’yan so nagke-create ng trabaho (It’s not like that. It’s a continuous cycle. For instance, backward linkages. The hardware industry, nails, metals, cement — aren’t they growing because there’s construction? In this backward link, there’s a huge demand which helps create jobs),” he said.

Backward linkage is an industry or business that supports another industry or business.

“Kapag natapos na mga projects (infrastructure projects such trains, highways etc.) may maintenance ‘yan e. So in other words, these are cycles and that is the economic, the workings of the economy. Hindi ‘yung one time titingnan mo dito hindi ganun ang pag-analyze (When projects are finished, there’ maintenance. So in other words these are cycles and that is the economic, the workings of the economy. You don’t just look at it in a one-time perspective, that’s not how you analyze),” Lagunzad added.

With this, he noted that there’s a side effect in the excess demand for workers, where people will find it hard to find carpenters or plumbers or they charge too much to help fix their houses.

“Ang danger nga dyan, ‘yung household, mahal na ‘yung karpintero, wala ka ng makuha, mahal ang tubero. That’s the side effect (The danger here is carpenters’ rate become expensive, you can’t find one, plumbers’ rates are also expensive), the DOLE official added.

Ibon Foundation earlier said the BBB program of the government is not an effective job-creating program, saying the annual job-creation rate under the Duterte administration is the lowest over the last six administrations. (PNA)

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