The head of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) said the trade group’s biggest wish for 2024 is for more investments to come into the country to create more work for more people.
ECOP president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. in an interview with Radyo Pilipinas on December 21 shared that an increase in investments tops their wish list as this will translate to more jobs.
Ortiz-Luis, Jr. lauded the successful trips of the President abroad to bring home foreign direct investments, but added that the group had been hoping for larger investments.
“In spite of all those successes, napakaliit ng parte natin ng investment [our share of investment is so small] compared to our neighbors like Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore,” he said. “Dapat sana mas malaki [It could still be larger].”
This hesitance he attributes in part to investors’ concerns about the “erratic policies” in the country over the years and the cancellation of some major contracts. He said what is imperative in 2024 is to find ways to regain both local and foreign investors’ confidence in the country.
Meanwhile, asked about the top challenges the business community faced this year, Ortiz-Luis Jr. said the most pressing was undoubtedly the high inflation rate, followed by the illegal pass-through fees allegedly imposed in some local government units (LGUs).
He said inflation had surged to around 8% in the beginning before declining in the subsequent months, and he hopes this will further fall to about 4% in 2024.
The executive also said another major thorn on the side of the business sector is the fees supposedly levied by certain LGUs to allow passage for deliveries. “Yung ibang nag-de-deliver, lalo na ang maliliit na nanggagaling sa norte, inaabot ng 15% nung cost [Some suppliers, particularly the small ones coming from the north, have to pay up to 15% of the cost],” he commented.
Small suppliers are surely hurting from this, and will either pass on the cost to the consumer or simply stop doing business, he said.
But there’s good news, too, in that the 13th month pay of most of the workers have been distributed, with 90% of companies already compliant with this labor mandate, said Ortiz-Luis Jr.
Only some micro enterprises that have encountered cash flow problems remain, he reported, but added that they’ve not heard of any complaints so far.
“Narinig ko parang 90% are already compliant. So 10% na lang yung hinihintay [I heard that about 90% are already compliant so we’re just waiting for the 10%],” he continued.
While this may indicate the economy is improving, the business leader said: “Kahit paano gumanda ang ekonomiya at employment, pero hindi pa rin kasing ganda ng inaasahan natin [The economy and employment have shown some improvement but still not as much as we were expecting].”
He said ECOP hopes that by next year more workers in the informal sector—comprised of about 84% of the total workforce and consisting of farmers, fisherfolk, PUV drivers, market vendors, and others without employers as well as the unemployed—can be included in the formal sector as well so they can be provided with regular work and benefits.