Infrastructure binge to create 2 million jobs this year

In Photo: A worker sits among steel rods in a construction site in Parañaque City.

A total of 2 million jobs will be generated by the Duterte administration’s infrastructure program—the “Build, Build, Build” (BBB)—this year, as the government moves to align its flagship campaign with the country’s employment-generation drive.

In an interview with the BusinessMirror, Anna Mae Y. Lamentillo, chairman of the Build, Build, Build program, said the government’s target is to employ 2 million people in different positions this year for the all-out implementation of the infrastructure program. Dubbed as the second phase of the BBB, the government intends to create more employment opportunities for the people with its “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” (JJJ).

“In the DPWH [Department of Public Works and Highways] alone, we already generated around 150,000 to 175,000 jobs.

“We are also expecting the whole BBB program for this year to create 2 million jobs,” Lamentillo said.

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She added that the figures she cited were at the minimum, as the DPWH has yet to come up with a final data as to how many jobs it had produced last year for the infrastructure projects. Regional offices of the department are still finalizing the numbers, she said.

Lamentillo explained that “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs,” which will be in full swing by May, was instituted to ensure the government’s flagship campaign is aligned with the people’s need for employment. “We want to make sure that there is no disconnection between the availability of jobs and the infrastructure projects,” she said.

“We will also be having a jobs portal for the Build, Build, Build. We have the transparency portal to inform the public real time what is happening with our big-ticket projects, so we should also have a portal that will include the employment needs from all our concessionaires and all our construction companies. That will serve as our jobs matching. We hope it helps our overseas Filipino workers [OFWs],” Lamentillo added.

The infrastructure program chief said the jobs portal is intended to reach OFWs and make them consider the option of coming home and serving in the BBB. President Duterte himself wants OFWs, especially those in countries with notorious records of domestic abuse, to return to the country and serve as construction workers for the infrastructure projects.

In the BusinessMirror’s Coffee Club Forum on Thursday, Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar said the government is finding ways to ensure wages under the Build, Build, Build will be competitive so as to entice OFWs to join the infrastructure work force. “At some point, we will be able to be competitive, especially with the demand for construction workers,” he said. He cited as an example the demand for welders, which he claimed to have a salary of above-minimum wage. “There is that demand for construction, especially for skilled labor. Your demand for labor increases, so as the cost. That is the scenario we will be looking at,” Villar added.

The Duterte administration is completing dozens of public infrastructure, such as the North Luzon Expressway Harbor Link, Luzon Spine Expressway, Philippine National Railway North and South Rails and the Metro Manila Subway, under the Build, Build, Build. The government intends to achieve this dream by increasing the country’s infrastructure-to-GDP ratio to 7 percent, which is expected to amount to as much as P9 trillion by the end of the President’s term.

The government has, so far, allocated P3.6 trillion for its infrastructure program, most of which for transportation and connectivity projects in Metro Manila and other major urban centers. Aside from the annual budget, the BBB will also rake in 70 percent, or P84.84 billion, of the expected revenue of P121.2 billion from the new tax law.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque Jr. said in Thursday’s Palace briefing that the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority has announced that it would give free training to around 100,000 people for the realization of the BBB plan.  “Graduates of the skills training, especially the indigenous peoples, the poor, the rebel returnees will be recruited to play a vital role in the development of infrastructure projects, such as the construction of roads, bridges and establishments. Of course we have to do this, because apparently, the BBB program has already resulted in some kind of a shortage for construction workers here in the Philippines,” he said.

With Bernadette D. Nicolas

 

 

 

Image Credits: Nonie Reyes

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