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Escudero hits slow implementation of measures mitigating effects of TRAIN

/ 02:22 PM August 09, 2018
Francis Escudero

Sen. Francis Escudero (File photo by RICHARD A. REYES / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero criticized the slow and “highly inefficient” implementation of mitigating measures to cushion the inflationary impact of the government’s tax reform law.

Escudero made the remark as he questioned National Economic Development Authority’s (NEDA) claim that the increase in the average income of individuals would compensate for inflation, which reached a five-year high of 5.7 percent in July.

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“Tumaas ng 8.82 percent ang income kaya kahit ang inflation mo ay 5.7 percent, okay pa rin? If we’ll do this, paano tataas iyong income ng magsasaka? How do you address that issue? Through subsidies? So nagtaas tayo ng TRAIN, may subsidy tayo sa jeepney drivers? It’s highly inefficient. The subsidies which are supposed to be mitigating measures aren’t rolled out as fast,” Escudero told the country’s economic managers on Wednesday during the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) briefing.

These numbers, according to Escudero, do not add up since the increase in income that NEDA is citing does not include the minimum wage earners.

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“I’m concerned about the minimum wage earners because they’re the poor. They’re the ones who need help. When you want to reduce poverty, you look at the minimum wage earners,” he said.

The senator also called on the economic managers to come up with the “real unemployment rate” to accurately reflect the number of Filipinos without jobs.

He said the definition of unemployment currently being used by the government is somehow confusing since it does not include those who are unpaid family workers.

“I’ve been sitting in this committee for quite some time and I’ve always been asking NEDA to come up with real unemployment figures because during GMA’s (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s) time, we shifted the definition and followed International Labor Organization’s (ILO) standards. And that brought down the unemployment rate immediately to 7 percent from 11 percent,” Escudero told economic managers on Wednesday during the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) briefing.

He explained that the ILO definition of “employed,” which is still being used today, “include unpaid family workers, as well as those who worked for at least one hour in the previous week.”

Escudero also questioned Socio-economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia’s claim that unemployment rate had gone down to 5.4 percent in the first half of 2018 from the 5.7 percent in 2017.

“Pero ano ba talaga iyong level of unemployment instead of making us all feel better that it’s going down. It’s only through the gaps and cracks of the nitty-gritty of defining it that it actually went down,” Escudero said.

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“It would also be nice to know the level of employable workforce among Filipinos. Ilan na ba talaga yung may trabaho na kumikita ng sapat?” he added. /je

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TAGS: Economy, Escudero, income, Inflation, measures, subsidy, tax reform, Train
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