Diokno: Returning OFWs can get jobs from gov’t infrastructure program

Aika Rey

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Diokno: Returning OFWs can get jobs from gov’t infrastructure program
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno says the Philippine government will send a mission to Kuwait to convince Filipino workers to come home and work in their home country

MANILA, Philippines – Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said on Wednesday, May 9, that overseas Filipino workers in Kuwait who decide to heed calls to come home can get jobs from the government’s  Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.

Diokno said in a news briefing on Wednesday that according to the National Economic and Development Authority, the infrastructure program  can generate 1.1 million jobs annually.

The budget chief said in a press briefing that this will help “address the influx of returning overseas Filipino workers” from Kuwait because of the diplomatic row between the Philippines and the Gulf state.

“In order to allay fears as regards job opportunities available for returning OFWs, I am happy to share that, according to the latest numbers provided by NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority), our Build, Build, Build infrastructure program is expected to generate 1.1 million jobs annually,” he said.

In April last year, NEDA estimated that the infrastructure program would generate more than 100,000 jobs in 2017, over 800,000 jobs in 2018, 1.12 million jobs in 2019, 1.23 million jobs in 2020, 1.39 million jobs in 2021, and 1.7 million jobs million in 2022.

Diokno also said that the Philippine government will send a mission to the Middle East to convince OFWs to come home and work in the Philippines. He said he got this information from Public Works Secretary Mark Villar. (READ: Diokno: ‘Kung masipag ka lang, hindi ka magugutom sa Pilipinas’)

“I asked Secretary Villar about that and We are actually setting a mission to the Middle East to convince them (OFWs) to come home, especially that construction activity in that part of the world is little. So why don’t you come home and participate [here]?” he said.

Diokno reiterated that job opportunities in the Philippines is not a problem, “We have Build, Build, Build which means ‘jobs, jobs, jobs.'” he said.

Apart from construction, other employment opportunities will be available as well. The jobs will be posted in an online job portal set to be rolled out within the year, Diokno said.

The budget chief added that apart from OFWs, fresh graduates from the K to 12 program who opt to work can take advantage of the infrastructure program’s employment opportunities.

According to the  latest labor statistics, the unemployment rate stands at 5.3%, higher than the figure in October 2017 when it stood at 5%. But the figure is still lower than January 2017’s 6.6%. (READ: Unemployment rises under Duterte’s watch)

Diokno said the number of employed persons improved from 39.35 million in January 2017 to 41.76 million in January 2018.

“We have the base for new jobs. As i said we plan to generate 1.1 million jobs under the Build, Build, Build program. This is just the government side. As you know, the private sector construction is very active,” he said.

The budget department said P8 trillion to P9 trillion will be spent on the infrastructure program, raising infrastructure spending from 5.4% of the gross domestic product in 2017 to as high as 7.3% of the GDP in 2022.

The Philippine economy is seen to grow by 7% in 2018 as well, hinging on the government’s continuous rollout of its infrastructure program.– Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.