Press Release
September 10, 2020

Villanueva: Funding priorities for 2021 should trigger, sustain economic rebound

With layoffs still in the horizon as the economy is sputtering back to life and with a still high unemployment rate, the 2021 national budget should fund priority sectors to sustain the recovery, according to Senator Joel Villanueva.

Citing the 2021 national expenditure program (NEP), Villanueva raised concerns over the marginal increase in the budget of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), which has been the lead agency in mitigating the impact of the unemployment in the country for both domestic and overseas-based workers.

Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee, pointed out that the emergency employment programs may not be enough to tide over the needs of displaced workers. Reintegration and emergency repatriation funds must also be examined carefully and determine their sufficiency, considering the continuous lay-offs of OFWs in various countries around the globe, he explained.

Villanueva also suggested that there should be more emphasis on financing programs that would raise the skills of workers, such as those run by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

"Habang nagbabago ang ating job market, napakahalaga po na magbigyan ng pagkakataon ang ating mga manggagawa na mag-retrain or upskill upang magkaroon ng mas magandang oportunidad na makakuha ng trabaho," Villanueva said in a statement. "Kaya po mahalaga sa atin na patuloy na pondohan ang mga programang naka-disenyo para magbigay ng upskilling or retraining sa mga manggagawa."

"Our resource persons earlier mentioned that among the challenges faced by the Build, Build, Build program is the job-skills mismatch because most of our workers who have the experience and the skills we need are working overseas. Now that most of them have returned home, our government should find a way to tap this available resource, and we believe that DOLE and TESDA play key roles in achieving this goal," added the lawmaker.

Villanueva said he would continue to look into the optimal funding requirement for TESDA to be able to reach more beneficiaries, especially displaced workers. Under the 2021 NEP, TESDA would be allotted P2.9 billion to finance the TVET scholarship of some 21,233 trainees, and P200 million for about 8,333 trainees in private TVET institutions.

"If we are going to hit our target of 6-8% unemployment by next year, we should fund programs that are designed to spark and sustain our economic rebound. We cannot stress this point any further - that our budget next year will really make or break our recovery. This is why we want to scrutinize each agency's budget, and check whether the items in the budget are necessary and up to what extent it will support our economic recovery," Villanueva said.

The lawmaker likewise commended the economic managers for allocating funds for the Tulong Trabaho law, which finances training programs of in-demand jobs that is determined by the labor market. Under the Bayanihan 2, which is up for the President's signature, Congress allocated P1 billion to support the training of individuals at TESDA.

Villanueva is optimistic that upskilling and retraining of displaced workers should help improve their employability while waiting for the job market to become better.

News Latest News Feed