Month: January 2014

Sen. Bam: Youth Unemployment ‘Growing Epidemic’

Senator Bam Aquino called the huge number of unemployed youth in the country a “growing epidemic” that should be immediately addressed by the government.

 “Youth unemployment is a growing epidemic in the Philippines and all over the world,” the senator said during Tuesday’s first-ever hearing of the Senate Committee on Youth, which he chairs.

According to a data from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), of the 2.8 million jobless Filipinos, 1.42 million or more than half are from the youth sector.

The lawmaker stressed that the government’s push for inclusive growth will not take off unless the problems of youth unemployment and underemployment are not immediately addressed.

To help tackle this, the senator calls on different government agencies such as the DOLE, the Department of Education (DepEd), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), as well as the private sector, to develop programs that will create more jobs and solve the so-called “job mismatch”, which contributes to the high unemployment rate.

“We call on government agencies, educational institutions, and private companies to work more closely together in solving the problems of youth unemployment and underemployment,” said Sen. Bam.

Aquino stressed that there needs to be better linkages between the private sector and our educational system, “so that our graduates are better equipped for the demands of the industry”.

“We need to ensure that our graduates are equipped to find jobs that fit their skills and educational attainment, after they finish school,” the senator stressed.

If young Filipinos opt to start a new business, the senator said that they should be given access to financing, training, market linkages, and other means of support that will help them run and develop their own businesses.

“This is one of the advocacies of our office, but we need  support from different sectors to push for policies and programs that will open up opportunities for young Filipinos,” the lawmaker emphasized.

Sen. Bam: PH social enterprise to take centerstage at WEF

Social enterprise in the Philippines will take centerstage when Senator Bam Aquino discusses his experience in empowering and creating opportunities for the poor during the 2014 World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meetings in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.
The senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, will speak during a session for social entrepreneurs on Jan. 21. The forum proper will be held from Jan. 22 to 25.
The senator will talk about social entrepreneurship in the Philippines during the morning session entitled “Changing the Game: Innovating Smartly in Organizations and Systems” at Post Hotel.
In the afternoon session entitled “Cracking the Emerging Market Code”, Sen. Aquino will share the story behind the successful Hapinoy Program which he co-founded in 2006 before he entered politics.
The Hapinoy Program is a micro-enterprise development program which focuses on small neighborhood convenience stores or sari-sari stores, commonly set up by Filipino mothers to help augment their family’s financial needs.
The program provides mothers with training, access to capital through micro financing, and opportunities for new businesses that will benefit both their families and the communities they are in.
Other Filipino achievers are also expected to join the lawmaker as they attend sessions on business, policy, design and social enterprise.
Sen. Aquino was a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum in 2006 and was a WEF panelist in 2012 for the “Learning from the Frontiers” session.
Based in Geneva , Switzerland , the World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas.
Incorporated as a non-profit foundation in 1971, the WEF is tied to no political, partisan, or national interests. This year’s forum will have “The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business” as its theme.
In April, the Philippines will host the 23rd World Economic Forum on East Asia , which is crucial in the region’s preparation for ASEAN integration in 2015.

Smuggling an “Ongoing Scandal” — Sen. Bam

Senator Bam Aquino calls smuggling “an ongoing scandal” and calls on the government to crack down on smuggling to protect local businesses and the interest of workers.

The senator warned that many businesses will close shop and thousands of workers will lose their livelihood if the government fails to curb smuggling.

“The government should launch a serious and aggressive drive against smuggling because it is a big threat to legitimate businesses in the country,” said Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship.

The Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) recently revealed that, from 2002 to 2011, the government lost P1.33 trillion or P133 billion a year in revenues due to smuggling in different ports all over the country.

“If the people were indignant over the PDAF scam because at least 10 billion was taken away from the people’s money, the amounts we’re losing to smuggling are over ten times that amount. Smuggling is an ongoing scandal that needs to be addressed urgently,” Aquino said.

The senator emphasized that many businessmen, majority of them from the agriculture sector, have been weighed down by losses due to smuggling. This is also a deterrent for many investors who would otherwise be interested to invest in the Philippines.

“The never-ending issue on smuggling sends a negative signal to potential investors.  Mahirap magpasok ng mga bagong negosyo at trabaho sa bansa kung tingin ng mga investor ay mahina tayo laban sa smuggling,” Aquino said.

In line with this, Aquino called on the Bureau of Customs (BoC) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to work more closely together and intensify their campaign against the illegal entry of goods into the country. The senator likewise extended his cooperation and support to other government agencies working to curb smuggling in the Philippines.

“There is no ‘magic bullet’ to solve smuggling but if there is a tighter convergence of efforts, especially for our law enforcement agencies, we can end this menace to protect and strengthen our local industries and livelihood,” Sen. Aquino asserted.

Also, Aquino also batted for the modernization of the Bureau of Customs, which could also help curb smuggling.

“It’s about time that we modernize our systems to streamline the process that will eventually eradicate corruption and smuggling,” Aquino emphasised.

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Sen. Bam: Brownouts Big Threat to Economy

The looming rotating brownouts and power shortage pose a big threat to the economy, as it could lead to huge business losses and massive worker layoffs

“This is the same thing that happened in Mindanao, where many companies had to close shop and many workers lost their jobs because of the widespread power shortages,” said Sen. Bam Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship.

According to several Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Mindanao, hundreds of millions of pesos were lost due to long brownouts.

“If this happens in Metro Manila and in other business hubs in Luzon, we will surely experience more losses, and many more lives will be affected,” Aquino emphasized.

The Manila Electric Company (Meralco) earlier warned of rotating brownouts and a power shortage after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) barring the latest power rate hikes.

According to Sen. Aquino, one solution to the power shortage is to make it easier for companies to come in and engage in power generation.

“There are many companies interested in venturing into the power sector, but they are dismayed by the slow and tedious process of getting a permit to operate,” Aquino emphasized.

Aquino underscored that more power plants are needed to ensure the steady supply of electricity, at a lower cost.

“If we have more generating plants, even if four of five shut down, the market should be able to sustain our energy needs,” Sen. Aquino said, adding that prices of electricity will be reduced with the entry of more players into the power sector.

The senator also revealed his plan to investigate whether or not the government is providing enough support to companies who are interested in entering the power sector.

“I intend to investigate this to make sure that new players who want to engage in putting up power plants are given the right support by government,” he said.

The senator stressed that the livelihood of millions of Filipinos should not be dependent on only a few power producers.

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Lower Prices still Possible – Sen. Bam

Lowering the prices of goods is still possible, if key reforms in the shipping industry are undertaken, including a review and amendment of the Cabotage Law.

This was stressed by Senator Bam Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship, at a hearing conducted by the committee on Thursday morning.

“Reviewing and amending the Cabotage Law is one of the many reforms that need to be pushed in the shipping industry. Ultimately, this will benefit millions of Filipinos because it will help bring down the prices of goods in the country,” the senator emphasized.

During the hearing, Aquino explained that high shipping costs around the country

largely contribute to the high prices of goods.

In fact, Sen. Aquino noted that it is cheaper to send products from other countries to the Philippines than to ship goods within the country.

For example, the cost of shipping a 20-foot equivalent unit (TEU) from Kaoshiung, China to Cagayan de Oro is $360 or P16,000.

However, the cost of shipping the same cargo from Manila to Cagayan de Oro will take $1,120 or almost P50,000.

“If we look at it, local shipping costs are more than three times the cost of shipping costs to and from overseas.Hindi tama na mas mahal pa ang presyo ng local shipping sa pagbiyahe ng mga lokal na produkto,” he stressed.

With the current prices, local businesses have no other choice but to increase the prices of their products to cover for the high transport costs.

“Kung magsasagawa tayo ng mga kinakailangang reporma sa shipping industry, bababa ang halaga ng pagbiyahe ng produkto na mauuwi naman sa mas murang bilihin,” Aquino explained.

Aside from lowering prices, local businesses and the agriculture sector will be strengthened as farmers and local traders will be encouraged to transport their products to different parts of the country.

“We are confident that, with the help of our colleagues in government and the private sector, we will be able to find more ways to lighten the burden of our countrymen caused by high prices,” Aquino said.

“Our goal here is really to lower the prices of goods, but we also need to consider the welfare of our local shipping companies who will be affected by the proposed amendments,” the lawmaker added.

In his 2013 State of the Nation Address, President Benigno Aquino III asked Congress to amend the Cabotage Law, as it will lower the transport cost of products.


Photo source: Subic Bay Official Website

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