MANILA—Senator Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero said on Sunday the government should take the lead in beefing up investments in the manufacturing sector which has a huge potential to create jobs for an estimated 2.37 million unemployed Filipinos.
Escudero said more government-led and made-in-the-Philippines industries will not only benefit the economy but will also address problems such as joblessness and criminality, which is fueled by poverty and lack of livelihood and employment opportunities.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the number of jobless persons reached 2.37 million in the country as of October this year.
Among the unemployed, 63.4 percent are male. The age group 15 to 24 years comprised 48 percent and the bracket 25 to 34 years old at 32.1 percent.
Creating a stronger manufacturing sector will also lessen the country’s dependence on imported raw materials, which also increases production costs and prices, the veteran lawmaker said.
”There are only few investing in the manufacturing sector. If you will notice, most of investments went to the service sector,” the leading vice presidential candidate based on surveys said.
Escudero believes the government should step in to fill the gaps that are left by the private sector.
“The government should not think twice about a government-led industry that can be established in the country. Then if later on it decides to privatize the operation and maintenance, it can very well do so. But what’s important at this point is for the government to take the lead,” Escudero explained.
Given the huge capital required to set up industries such as steel-making, the government could either put up its own plants or develop a credit scheme for businessmen who want to venture in the manufacturing sector but lack funds to do so, he said.
Government data showed that the manufacturing sector “comprises more than half of the Philippines’ industrial sector and accounts for almost a quarter of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”
The government’s central portal on industry policies (industry.gov.ph) website said that from an annual growth rate of 5.4 percent in 2012, the manufacturing sector grew by 10.5 percent in 2013 and 8.1 percent last year.
The sector, however, is a far second to the services sector in terms of contribution to the country’s 6.1 percent GDP growth or PhP 12.63 trillion in 2014.
On the other hand, the services sector’s gross value-added contribution reached 57 percent last year, making it the “strongest and fast-growing sector of the Philippine economy,” compared to its 36.6 percent contribution in the 1970s. It has also grown by an average of 6.3 percent from 2000 to 2014.