ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Trade chief Lopez: Creating more jobs through investments better than wage hike
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez on Wednesday expressed apprehension about giving workers significant increase in wages, saying this would exert inflationary pressure on the economy.
Lopez warned that approving a wage increase that is "more than necessary" would be "dangerous" as this may force businesses to raise prices on goods and services they are offering and lay off workers.
"And of course ang tatamaan, buong sambayanan, hindi lang iyong wage earners. So those who did not benefit from the wage hike will also get affected. So iyon po iyong diperensiya doon," he said at a press briefing in Malacañang.
For the Trade chief, the Philippines should have investments and job creation activities so that wages "will go up naturally" because of the supply and demand for labor.
"If we are successful in maintaining industrial peace, there is peace and order, rule of law - na pinapaigting po ng ating Pangulo - no corruption, good business environment, investment should come in, create more jobs, iyan ang magda-drive up ng wages," Lopez said.
'Minimal' wage hike
The Cabinet official, however, is not ruling out the possibility of a "minimal" wage hike to be set by the regional wage boards.
"There can be consideration because of the inflation. So if you ask me, there can be a minimal adjustment. But that should not be more than what is necessary because you will really create a strong pressure on inflation," Lopez said.
"Because in some regions, kung wala namang inflation, di dapat wala naman sigurong wage adjustment doon; kaya ginawa iyan by region. So depende sa situation sa region," he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier ordered the regional wage boards to look into the possibility of hiking the minimum wage in response to rising fuel prices which can influence the cost of basic goods and services.
He also directed the Department of Trade and Industry to monitor prices and apprehend profiteers.
Inflation hit its highest level in five years in May.
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