Press Release
January 11, 2009

Jinggoy proposes "special incentives" for companies
retraining and hiring laid off OFWs

Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada has called on the government to provide "special fiscal and non-fiscal incentives" to companies that would retrain and employ overseas Filipino workers laid off due to the global recession.

Estrada, chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, and the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment, said the incentives could be in the form of tax credits, tax exemptions, income tax holidays, duty-free importation of raw materials and equipment, or a combination of these and other such motivation measures.

"With these incentives, local companies - even those that had otherwise decided to freeze their hiring of employees due to the economic slowdown, would be able to absorb additional personnel from among the ranks of the retrenched OFWs," Estrada said, adding: "This measure could help retrenched OFWs find new jobs on one hand, and on the other, help our local enterprises weather the effects of the crisis."

The senator noted reports from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) that 3,567 Filipinos from seven countries, including the Chinese province of Macau, have been laid off due to the global slowdown of businesses.

The bulk of the laid-off OFWs - 3,321 - were from Taiwan's electronic, metal works and semi-conductor companies; while some were from Macau's casino and construction firms; South Korea's electronics; Brunei's electrical and telecommunications; Australia's shipbuilding; United Kingdom's garments; the United Arab Emirates' own industries; and from foreign vessels around the globe.

Migrant workers' alliances and support groups have claimed that the actual number of retrenched OFWs is far higher than government accounts.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) admitted that the layoff trend is on the rise, and might persist and even escalate in the next months. It said the retraining of retrenched OFWs could help them find new jobs in other companies abroad or in local enterprises.

"We must come up with innovative strategies in mitigating the effects of this recession on our workers and the economy," Estrada said as he expressed appreciation anew to the DoLE as well as other sectors that supported his call for the holding of an emergency summit on recession.

Estrada said he would push for the government's adoption and implementation of his "special incentives" proposal during the emergency summit which the DoLE said would be held within this month.

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