02 February 2011
“The government has nothing to boast of in this so-called economic growth.”
This is the statement of labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) in response to the government’s proud announcement of a 7.3% growth in the Gross Domestic Product in 2010, the highest since the Marcos administration.
“Figures have no real value if they do not translate to the improvement of actual conditions of the Filipino workers and people. Amid claims of economic growth, our stomachs say otherwise,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.
According to Ibon Foundation, a non-stock, non-profit research institution, despite the 7.3% economic growth, employment rose insignificantly with only 2.8%. Worse, majority of new jobs were in the lowest-paying sectors like manufacturing and construction riddled with numerous job-related hazards like the recent Eton tragedy. Also, 70% of our population is struggling to survive at P104 a day to as low as P22.
“No wonder President Aquino’s 2011 budget plan is focused on austerity measures because he is blind to the conditions of the workers and people,” Soluta said.
“Where did the growth come from? The main factors for the so-called economic growth are superficial because they are external: the alleged global economic recovery from the 2009 economic crisis, the national elections which activated some manufacturing subsectors like the paper industry, and better weather that helped the farming sector towards the end of the year,” Soluta said.
“The factors that helped the 2010 economy cannot be expected to be present this 2011. Economic spending also increased during the first semester of 2010 due to reconstruction after typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng,” Soluta added.
“There is reason to believe that there is growth for some people in society because while income of the majority of Filipinos is plumetting, profits of big foreign and local corporations are soaring,” Soluta said.
According to Ibon Foundation, the net profit of top corporations has increased by 20.1%, from P193.4 billion in 2009 to P232.2 billion in the first quarter of 2010. A big chunk of this net profit belongs to mining, oil, financing and property which mainly are owned by big foreign and local corporations.
“Compare that to the minimum wage in NCR which is P404, way below the actual cost of living of a family of five, which the government is so reluctant to increase for fear of discouraging private investors,” Soluta said.
“Personal consumption expenditures remain the primary driver of growth. But as prices of oil, basic commodities and fares soar high while wage remains below-survival level, the capacity of the people to buy plummets and the worst is expected to come,” Soluta said.
Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general