7.1% record growth not felt by people – group

THE so-called record growth of the country’s economy is not felt by the Filipino workers and people.”

This was labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno’s reaction to the 7.1 per cent growth in the country’s Gross Domestic Product, saying whatever growth the economy has shown has not resulted in higher employment and incomes for workers and the people.

The labor center said the growth was fueled by the services sector, not by the manufacturing sector which has stagnated or by the agriculture sector which has even deteriorated.

“The economy’s third-quarter performance shows once again that the GDP can grow without increases in employment and ordinary people’s income. The Aquino government and big capitalists may be rejoicing but for the Filipino workers and people, there’s nothing to celebrate,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

“The service sector is notorious among workers for meager wages, denial of benefits, contractual and temporary employment, and violations of workers’ rights. Even the kind of growth that’s being bragged about is not sustainable because it is based on the service sector,” he added.

“We suspect that this so-called growth was fuelled by the the government’s infrastructure projects, which consists mainly of projects of politicians who are aiming to get pogi (brownie) points for next year’s elections,” he said.

KMU cited the government’s third quarter Labor Force Survey, which showed employment figures stagnating while underemployment continues to increase.

It also cited the Social Weather Stations’ third quarter survey showing that unemployment has increased from 26.6 per cent to 29.4 per cent.

Independent think-tank Ibon Foundation, in a September 2012 study, says that unemployment in the country is highest in the Southeast Asian region.

“Economic prospects for ordinary Filipinos are not bright either. The Aquino government is hell-bent on increasing payments being collected from workers and the poor through various means, while failing to generate decent employment and rejecting calls for a significant wage hike,” Labog said.

KMU cited the Aquino government’s push for a fare hike in the MRT-LRT, hikes in water and power rates, increases in sin taxes and the imposition of a “text tax” and privatization of public hospitals.

Last Oct. 1, the Aquino government issued Administrative Order No. 31, which increases payments for the public’s transactions with the government for official documents from birth certificates to passports.

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