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Reference: Mr Sonny Africa (IBON research head)
March 3, 2006
GOVERNMENT STATISTICS SHOW GMA IS NOT ‘BEST BET’ TO RUN THE COUNTRY
Malacañang would like Filipinos to believe that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remains the best bet to lead the country because of her sterling economic accomplishments. But the numbers prove the president’s apologists wrong, according to independent think-tank IBON Foundation.
Although government trumpets its job creation record, more Filipinos were actually looking for work in 2005 than at any other time in the country’s history, said IBON research head Sonny Africa. Four million unemployed and 6.8 million underemployed Filipinos, a total of 10.9 million Filipinos or a third of the labor force, were either jobless or otherwise still not earning enough for decent living and so were looking for additional work.
As it is, the average unemployment rate of 11.4% in 2005 cements Arroyo’s dubious distinction of having the worst sustained joblessness rates of any administration in the country’s history, a fact which was obscured by government’s recent adoption of a more stringent definition in the quarterly Labor Force Survey which drastically reduced the official unemployment rate, according to Africa.
Africa also pointed out that inflation rates, which had been generally falling since the mid-1990s turned around and started rising steeply in the last four years of the Arroyo administration. The up-trend has so far seen inflation drastically increase from 3% in 2002 to 7.7% in 2005, indicating that prices shot up faster last year than they did in any of the seven years before it.
High oil prices exacerbated by successive fuel price hikes, and power and water tariff rate adjustments have all resulted in skyrocketing prices of basic goods. Prices of petroleum products rose drastically in 2005 and increased by some 30% from year end-2004 levels. This brought prices to over double the average price in 2001, the first year of the Arroyo administration.
Aggravating the effects of power and water tariff hikes on basic utilities was the implementation in November 2005 of the centerpiece of government’s fiscal reform measures: Republic Act (RA) 9337 or the reformed value-added tax (RVAT), which imposed VAT on power and oil products, as well as increasing the VAT rate from 10% to 12% starting February 2006.
The economy, Africa said, performed dismally under Arroyo’s stewardship in all the things that really matter: record numbers of Filipinos needed jobs, prices soared, and people’s consumption was hit so hard that even growth slowed. Worse, her administration ignored the worsening plight of the people and instead focused on pleasing foreign creditors and domestic elites by implementing new and increased taxes such as the RVAT. (end)
IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.