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27 December 2009
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Philippine labour among the most expensive in region

Philippine labour is not among the cheapest in Asia and the Pacific, and is even among the most expensive in Southeast Asia, next only to Singapore, reported the Business World, quoting data from the National Wages and Productivity Commission showed.

Data from the policymaking commission, an agency under the Department of Labor and Employment, showed the Philippines placing seventh in a ranking of 13 economies in the region, in terms of having the lowest minimum wage.

Workers in the National Capital Region (NCR) earn a daily minimum wage of 382 peso or $8.09. That compares to Vietnam’s $1.26-$1.55 daily minimum wage; Cambodia’s $1.49-$1.66; Indonesia’s $1.95-$3.63; China’s $3.66-4.14; Thailand’s $4.44-$6.09, and Malaysia’s $7.19 -$15.40.

"The minimum wage in the Philippines is not as competitive as the other developing and emerging economies listed in the [NWPC data]. Clearly, the minimum wage of workers in Cambodia, Vietnam, and China are more attractive relative to workers in the NCR and the Philippines," University of Asia and the Pacific economist Cid L. Terosa said in a recent e-mail.

"[But the] wage differences can be traced to the quality of labor in a country. The wage is higher partly because of the quality of labor in the Philippines," he said.

Analysts said that a higher wage floor could be a manifestation that the Philippine labor market is composed of high-caliber workers compared to peers in neighboring countries.

"The competitiveness of the country’s labor market is strong. I believe that we are competitive because of how good we are particularly in electronics and business process outsourcing (BPOs)…Productivity is what we offer," National Competitiveness Council co-chairman Cesar B. Bautista said in a phone interview.

Another indication of the labour market’s competitiveness is the increasing number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), said Francis Chua of Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. "Our competitiveness is evident in the bulk of OFWs working abroad and the increasing amount of money they send home. So this is a good indication that we provide quality labour," Chua said.

While a higher minimum wage might seem a disincentive for investors who are in search of locations for their businesses, chamber leaders said that this is not always the case. Investors are more concerned about the overall cost of doing business.


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