Senator Edgardo J. Angara emphasized that the solution to country's the employment woes is creating "employment zones" that can absorb the unemployed and underemployed.
"I'm very obsessed with the issue of lack of income because that's the root cause of many social problems in this country - the inability to go to school, inability to take care of the sick, and rampant malnutrition. How do we create employment in this country? By creating employment zones in underserved, very poor areas," Angara said during the launch of the Angara Centre for Law and Economics.
Angara explained that by creating employment zones, where one can bypass the maze of regulatory tapes, the country can start giving immediate employment to Filipinos.
He added that these employment zones, which are similar to economic zones, should be created in areas along the pacific coast of the country such as in Samar, Leyte, Davao Oriental, Palawan, Cagayan and Aurora.
Dr. John V.C. Nye, Executive Director of the Angara Centre, seconded the senator's suggestion. He pointed out that problems of capitalism, competition, monopoly, poor infrastructure, overly rigid commercial labor laws, complicated taxation, constitutional restrictions, and zoning needs make it very hard to convert agricultural land into commercial land in the Philippines.
"Structural transformation is just a buzz word for moving people out of poor or underperforming agriculture into faster performing industry especially export promoting industry. Almost all studies of development say that the fastest way to grow is to move people from low productive sector to high productive sector and yet, the bulk of Philippine rules, regulations and laws work against that," said Nye, the Frederic Bastiat Chair in Political Economy at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
He continued, "The best evidence for that is we have all these OFWs - these highly skilled, highly desirable workers who cannot get jobs at home. Why is it so easy to employ Filipinos abroad? How do you employ Filipinos in the Philippines? If it's easier to employ them abroad than in the Philippines then there must be something preventing you from opening factories and businesses in the Philippines. We need to understand why that's the case."
The Angara Centre is a premier think tank that aims to raise the standards of academic research and policy studies by tapping the growing ranks of internationally trained Filipino scholars and a network of international law and economics experts.
Angara urged the government to address this employment issue soon and consider implementing these employment zones in key areas in the country.
"We should now create a zone, where we can bypass this regulatory maze and all these things that we're complaining about, and start giving immediate employment. I think that's our concern now, not five years from now because five years from now, we will be 115 million in population; 10 years from we will be almost 120 million then it will be harder for us to cope with those demographics," the senator said.
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