Economic report PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 02 August 2015 14:19

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

San Jose, CA. — City hall, with the expertise of the National Economic and Development Authority, the knowledge of business federations and commerce associations and the city economic affairs office, should make an economic report showing where Zamboanga is at right now in terms of economic growth. What level of prosperity are we at since the 2013 drawback Zamboanga siege?

It is important that we are informed 10 months before the national elections how Zamboanga is doing in terms of job generation and curtailing underemployment. How many college graduates are jobless? We’d like to know, for example, what the workforce participation rate is (the percentage of people who are in the labor market).

How many college degree holders are out of work the last 12 months (long-term unemployed). This is important because the long-term unemployed people suffer not just economically but also socially. In the United States, those unemployed face divorce, depression and even suicide.

Yes, food is relatively cheap and abundant in Zamboanga and those earning below the minimum wage can rent a ragged shelter, eat at least twice a day, cover themselves decently with China-made clothes without becoming criminals.

Figures, not robust pronouncements about our economy, should be presented to erase any illusory thoughts contemplated by the cynics who are, as George Meredith said, “only happy in making the world as barren for others as they have made it for themselves.”

Definitely, urban migration has increased and has become the city government’s main concern because more jobs, more livelihood opportunities and housing must be created for the locals and the “immigrants” from our neighboring provinces. The opening of KCC Mall in December will create jobs and encourage consumer spending. There are other small shopping stores that have opened recently. The positive conclusion is that more people are employed. And if SM and Robinson’s decide to dig for gold in Zamboanga, so much the better.

It’s time to relive our relations with Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, that which we call the East-Asean Growth Area conceptualized and put into motion by former President Ramos. This economic linkage was never perfected because there was no political continuity (does that sound familiar?).

And if Mayor Rody Duterte is running for president with Sen. Bong-Bong Marcos as his running-mate, the revival of the BIMP-EAGA could be one of their platforms of government, next to peace and order.