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Project Job Fits ends in success
Fri, Aug 02, 2013 (Source: Zamboanga Today Online)
The recently concluded "Project Job Fits: DOLE 2020 Vision" aimed at gathering and documenting different recommendations and strategies from various regional stakeholders to identify labor market and gaps was a success. The event gathered multi-sectoral support coming from both the private and public sector and stakeholders.

Zamboanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation Inc. (ZCCIFI) President Pedro Rufo "Pocholo" N. Soliven representing the Business and Industrial groups, presented to the assembly a strategy which even the Labor Group present led by its President Jose Suan was in agreement in principle, subject for further discussions.

Soliven cited empirical data to bolster his stand and that of the Commerce and Industry sectors' position on the need to review labor policies and come up with strategies that will trickle down to the grass roots, so that inclusive growth will be felt. He said, "a one Size fits all policy" will not work citing unique economic situations and dynamics in the region.

The latest NSCB survey showing the Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) decelerated and Family Income Expenditure Survey (FIES) by NSO showing Zamboanga Peninsula as ranking second to the last, next to ARMM, unemployment and underemployment rate of 30.6%, calls for a more relevant and out of the box strategy that will raise our level of competitiveness as a regional player.

Soliven enumerated numerous roadblocks, one of which is the mandated minimum wage, "a law, while its objective is paved with good intentions to help workers, however economic research shows that minimum wages are harming more workers in the labor market and the broader economy, since it discriminates and provide barrier to entry of low skilled workers into the job market, therefore creating a security problem in the region. An Idle mind is a devil workshop, and hungry stomach knows no law"...Soliven further added.

He said we also have to look not only in creating job opportunities, but also at job preservation of those who are already gainfully employed.

He added that with every new mandated wage increase, the natural reaction for employers will be to reduce hiring, cut working hours, outsource, job contracting and pass on this extra cost to the consumers to remain viable or for distressed companies, to keep its head just above waters in order to survive. Others would simply violate the mandated minimum wage order.

The current economic state of the Zamboanga Peninsula, the coming of ASEAN integration in 2015, the issue of competitiveness and positioning of the region to compete as one cohesive region, underscores several weaknesses which can be reversed by reviewing current policies that are creating more harm than good.

Soliven further proposed to "let free market forces dictate the wages and provide a structure in the productivity and incentivization schemes for workers in the service and industrial sector, an open and high level discussion is called for to address the issue whether mandated minimum wage is a boon or a bane to the regional economy. At the end of the day, We dont kill the goose that lays the golden egg, commerce and industry sectors are the key employment generator, the engine of growth and creators of wealth. The continued operations and viability of these companies must also be a strong case for consideration to review and revisit the present minimum wage law."

Zamboanga Today Online

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