By PNA and U.S. News Agency / Asian
Research institution IBON Foundation sees urgency in fast-tracking industrial development and agrarian reform nationwide, believing doing so will help truly boost the Philippines’ growth.
IBON executive director Sonny Africa said government must spearhead developing the country’s industrial sector to improve revenue generation and create more local jobs while reducing the Philippine labor market’s dependence on work overseas.
“Aside from distributing land, we believe government must extend support to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) so they’ll have the means to be economically productive,” he also said during Saturday Forum @ Annabel’s in Quezon City.
Africa cited both recommendations as IBON reported much still needs to be done for improving socio-economic conditions nationwide.
“The job crisis remains,” IBON said.
Agrarian reform is also still on-going, the foundation noted.
Government’s accomplishments on both are expected to be included in next month’s annual State of the Nation Address.
IBON noted its estimates on National Statistics Office data indicate that in April 2012, the country had some 4.4 million unemployed people and 7.3 million underemployed.
“Merely part-time work now accounts for 43 percent of jobs in the economy, or 16.2 million, out of 37.8 million employed,” IBON said.
Industrial development will help address such labor concerns, Africa said.
“In mining, for instance, we can process our own minerals and sell these even to foreign buyers so revenues and jobs are generated along the way,” he said.
He laments minerals and other raw materials are generally shipped out of the Philippines at present for processing abroad then exported back to the country to be sold as finished goods.
IBON also noted more work on agrarian reform is needed as this government program already dragged on for decades.
“We’re already over five and a half years behind schedule,” Africa said.
Government’s extended agrarian reform program is due to end in 2014.
Africa said government was able to distribute an average of 13,819 hectares per month only during the July 2010-September 2011 period while output in previous years was higher.
“Latest available government data as of 2002 show land ownership nationwide was less than what this was in 1972,” he said.
He said agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs)needed support from government so they could improve their respective capabilities to be economically productive.
“Studies show that with such support, ARBs can be three to four times more productive,” he said.
Such support could also bring forth a seven- or eight-fold rise in agrarian land productivity, he said.
“Without government support, ARBs will find it difficult to survive on their own so the tendency is for them to sell back their land to its former owners,” he said.