"I remember those days when I was struggling as a young man."
The recent Social Weather Stations survey on employment indicated that self-rated unemployment had increased to 22 percent, amounting to an estimated 9.8 million people—9.8 million people who do not have gainful employment. This is almost a 3-percentage-point jump from the 19.7 percent in June, or an increase of more than 1 million Filipinos unemployed.
This means 1 more million Filipinos who may fall below the poverty line. Even the job availability optimism dropped to 39 percent, from 47 percent last June, while the pessimism increased to 16 percent, from only 1 percent last June.
This is a serious problem, especially since the Christmas season is fast approaching.
The rising unemployment has often been correlated with government expenditures. As government spends its money through its programs and projects, especially in infrastructure, more jobs become available since more workers are needed to implement such projects. Moreover, government expenditure also generates and encourages businesses, thereby fueling the country’s economic growth.
The slow disbursement of government agencies must be addressed. In August, year-to-date spending was at P2.19 trillion out of the Php 3.767 trillion national budget. This merely amounts to almost 60 percent of the budget with only four months left to the year. I fervently call on the different agencies, especially the Department of Budget and Management, to accelerate expenditure and implementation of government projects. I urge the heads of the agencies to strictly monitor the accomplishment of their programs, particularly the big-ticket infrastructure projects, and hasten its completion, especially that we shall be adopting a cash-based budgeting scheme this 2019. This should generate more jobs and increase household income.
I have proposed one potential solution: the nationalization of the Small Town Lottery through House Bill No. 5026, while House Resolution Nos. 455 and 2241 propose the expansion of the STL to support the creation of employment opportunities for those who have difficulty finding gainful employment due to factors such as age, lack of education, or physical disabilities. I am pleased to hear that the STL Program of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office has produced more or less 270,000 cobradores, 21,200 cabos, and 11,700 organic STL employees this year. We are optimistic that employment in this area will be expanded.
I remember those days when I was struggling as a young man. There is no better gift than a paycheck, no happier feeling than finally getting a job to put food on the table. As the holiday season nears, let us all hope for better days to those who are unable to experience the joys of Christmas.