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GDP growth will fail to impress without jobs, Bayan tells Aquino

Posted on 30 January 2013 by admin

News release

January 30, 2013

Multisectoral group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) dismissed the anticipated high full-year growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) for 2012, saying that it will never impress the ordinary people if it continues to fail to make a dent on worsening job scarcity and poverty in the country. The group noted that the Philippines, despite government claims that it ranks behind only China in terms of GDP growth, in fact lags behind its neighbors in the region when it comes to job generation.

Bayan was reacting to the statement Tuesday by President Benigno Aquino III that “all of us will be impressed” when the GDP data for fourth quarter is released by government. The President echoed the earlier projection of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) that the domestic economy could top the 5-6 percent target set by officials for 2012.

“For millions of jobless and underemployed workers, for households that continue to wallow in poverty, any claim of economic growth is meaningless. To claim that the GDP performance will impress everyone is tactless and bares the indifference of Aquino to the plight of the unemployed and poor,” said Renato Reyes, Bayan’s secretary-general.

Bayan pointed out that compared to its Asian neighbors the country’s official unemployment is one of the highest in the region. In third quarter 2012, the Philippines posted a 7% official jobless rate, much higher than Thailand (0.6%); Singapore (1.7%); Malaysia (3%); South Korea (3%); and Taiwan (4.3%). These data were from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). Meanwhile, the group also noted that based on Social Weather Stations (SWS) surveys, adult unemployment worsened from an annual average of 22.5% in 2010 to 23.6% in 2011 and steeply climbed to 30.1 in 2012. The number of unemployed jumped from 9.5 million workers in 2010 to 12.1 million workers last year. Still using the SWS surveys, Bayan said that the number of poor households deteriorated from 8.9 million to 10.5 million during the same period.

“It’s hard to argue against these key social indicators by simply hyping the GDP performance, which is even being triggered by artificial and unsustainable growth drivers like overseas remittances and call center investments and does not signal a fundamental shift from the direction taken by past administrations. It’s impressive only for investors and creditors who regard high GDP growth, robust stock market and positive credit ratings as development indicators, but not for the ordinary folks who grind it out every day for survival. One wonders, who is Aquino’s real boss that he wants to impress with his brand of economic management, programs and priorities,” Reyes said.

“Quite strange too that while Aquino boasts of economic growth, many national candidates, even from Aquino’s own coalition, are raising issues such as poverty, unemployment, and lack of social services during their media ads. Aquino’s own coaltion doesn’t seem to believe the economic hype,” he added.

Bayan stressed that the GDP is simply a summation of the economy’s production in a given period and does not in any way capture the real state of the people. “The economy is not merely about the production of wealth. It’s also about the distribution of wealth that the society produces. You distribute wealth by designing and implementing programs that produce gainful jobs and livelihood opportunities through national industrialization and agrarian reform. You distribute wealth by ensuring decent living standards are met through substantial wages and adequate social services, among others. Sadly, all the wealth produced by the economy are being concentrated in the hands of a few economic elite and their foreign partners,” Reyes said.

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