NEDA chief cold to minimum wage hikes
MANILA — While the country’s economy continues to grow, workers’ minimum wage may not.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said increasing the minimum wage would be “counterproductive” as it could lead to companies laying off employees.
“Minimum wage increases tend to be counter productive actually, because then, instead of two earning members of the family, maybe only one will survive the, you know, the hiring and the firing of companies, the laying off,” Pernia said in a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday.
Workers’ groups have been asking for increases in basic pay, saying those who toil should also reap the benefits of an improving economy.
But Pernia said the better thing to do would be to generate more jobs. The new government would accomplish this by bringing development to the countryside, he said.
“The thrust of the Duterte administration is regional and rural development and development outside Metro Manila, mega-urban industrial region,” he said.
Poverty is more prevalant in the regions, according to Pernia, and the Duterte administration will bring more projects there.
“So that policy thrust, that strategy should address the puzzle why high economic growth is not trickling down,” he said.
At the same time, the administration would also put in more investment in education, health care, and human capital in the regions, he said.
Pernia credited the Aquino administration for the country’s robust economic growth, even joking that that was the reason he was wearing yellow on Tuesday.
“We actually credit the previous administration for sound fiscal and monetary policy which has you know, maintained our strong economic fundamentals and that is why during the previous administration, the economy has earned upgrading by this credit rating agencies,” he said.
But he also said the Aquino administration had devoted much of its focus on the macro-economy.
“What we intend to do is to focus now on the sub-national economies, sub-national, regional economies, including rural areas and agriculture in order to disperse development away from the mega urban industrial region comprising Metro Manila, Calabarzon and Central Luzon,” he said.
Metro Manila, Calabarzon, and Central Luzon, he noted, have been accounting for two-thirds of the country’s GDP.
“So you can imagine the inequality, the massive inequality which also explains, which underlie the massive poverty we have in this country, which has been a difficult nut to crack,” he said. SFM