ADB approves PHL loan worth $500M to spur job recovery

THE Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $500 million for the Philippines to aid in the government’s efforts to effect a recovery in employment.

“With the economy slowly moving towards a sustainable growth path, it is important to ensure private enterprises are supported with policies that make it easier for them to do business and generate employment,” ADB Senior Public Management Economist Sameer Khatiwada said in a statement on Thursday.

“This program is expected to help create jobs, get businesses back into action, and pave the way for displaced workers, youth, and women to return to the labor market by enhancing their skills through training and linking them to good quality jobs,” he added.

The “Post-COVID-19 Business and Employment Recovery Program” aims to help the government address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on jobs, livelihoods, and the labor market, the ADB said.

Under the program, the ADB will assist the government in creating “a more liberalized business and investment environment to encourage the private sector to grow and create more jobs.” 

“The program also supports government initiatives to expand labor market programs that address skills mismatches and promote training to reskill and retool workers to meet new demands in the post-pandemic jobs market,” it added.

The ADB said that the Philippines had one of the steepest declines in employment in Southeast Asia in 2020.

“While the unemployment rate declined to 4.2% in November 2022 from 6.5% a year earlier, labor market recovery remains uneven. For example, wage employment in private establishments remains lower than pre-pandemic levels. Similarly, informal employment remains higher, even though it has declined in recent months,” the bank said.

In 2021, the government launched a national employment recovery strategy to improve access to jobs and support the private sector in creating sustainable work opportunities.

“The new loan program will help the government implement the recovery strategy and achieve its targets to raise employment by 2025. ADB assisted the government in facilitating dialogue with key industry stakeholders on designing the recovery strategy,” it added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson