Remittances are sterilized into merely circulating the financial system and going to consumption, Ang explained, especially since these are money of individual migrant workers and their families.
Thus, while the impact of remittances on Philippine development is macro, the vehicle to lure these for development is micro, Ang said.
“That way, and if the local government is involved, then you can target development,” Ang adds.
The policy should be explicit and leave no room for doubt in the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan.
Ang said that government should actively instill a consciousness among prospective Filipino workers that their migration is only temporary; that they do not merely return here to retire after a long overseas stint, but “to work” and remain productive for themselves and for the economy.
Aquino’s campaign platform is to boost foreign investment, pour more resources to education, and generate more jobs locally through agriculture, business process outsourcing, infrastructure, manufacturing, logistics, mining, and tourism.
“If there is no production here, the Philippines will not have any productivity,” Ang said.
“Or else, this country will remain consumption driven —a situation that not even a thousand Noynoys can remedy.”
AS a first step, Ang proposes an overhaul of government’s information campaign on migration.
The government’s current pre-employment orientation seminar should be made optional while information should be specific to separately cater to high-skilled and low-skilled workers.
There should be “complete information disclosure of a destination country’s conditions, not just the pay. That way, information on the country where the worker will migrate to would be clearly disseminated.”
Achacoso, for his part, recommends government to address the concerns of labor migration from a “holistic standpoint” by explaining “how labor migration affects national development”.
Given the Philippines’ respectable global stature as regards labor migration, Achacoso said the DFA “should be taught about the principles and mechanics of labor migration, so that they can better argue with host countries about adjustments to make the life of migrants much easier.”
He also hopes the Philippines will request host countries for some compensating payment in return for the skilled workers lost here and hired abroad, such as nurses and doctors.
Achacoso also hopes no less than the President of the Republic sustains “a continuing interest in policy issues that affect labor migration, and intervenes every so often to shape and direct policies and programs.”
Again, though, these policies should not be merely about “consolidating the Philippines’ share of the [overseas job] market over which it has little real control”.
Something also is essential for the incoming president to do, Achacoso said: a better approach to address the lack of programs to create jobs domestically.
“Labor migration as the solution to the Philippines’ economic problem is erroneous, and addresses only one aspect of the [domestic employment] problem.”
Ang noted that the Aquino administration has the wherewithal to hit the diasporic dividend.
“He [Aquino] can help turn remittances into concrete investments.”
Preventing overseas movement of workers is unacceptable, yet the Philippine government should not rely on demand-driven job markets abroad to sustain the economy, Achacoso and Ang said.#