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P250-M fund for laid off OFWs set up

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:43:00 10/22/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Even as she allayed fears of the global economic crisis displacing Overseas Filipino Workers, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said the government would set up a P250-million livelihood fund in case it happens.

At the same time, Arroyo urged workers and businessmen to “seize the opportunity” of the construction boom in the Middle East as the United States’ economy continues to weaken.

But Arroyo said she would continue to pitch for the country’s business process outsourcing (BPO) industry to US firms as a “cost cutting solution.”

Citing data from the Department of Labor, Arroyo said no Filipino workers abroad have been displaced so far because of the financial crunch.

“For returning expatriates should there be, we will have constant monitoring of job orders of foreign principals, we will have and expanded livelihood and business formation program with a P250-million livelihood fund,” she said in a speech at the closing of the 34th Philippine Business Conference at the Manila Hotel on Wednesday.

The President said the government’s contingency plan for OFWs include “24/7 heightened” monitoring of displacements, monitoring job orders and decrease in labor demand, registering all OFWs, redeploying, redeploying displaced OFWs to emerging labor markets, and assisting in repatriation.

Arroyo said five years of high oil prices has been fueling the construction boom in the Middle East, which provides more jobs for Filipinos, and thus, increased remittances.

“In addition, the fact that the Philippines has a Mindanao close to the heart of the Middle East opens up opportunities not only for Mindanao but for the entire country,” she said.

“I call on you to also be decisive and avail, or not just avail, seize the opportunity provided by the closeness of the Middle East to Mindanao and to our Filipino workers,” Arroyo said, as he urged the business community to join her when she visits the region in December.

Arroyo also said that in the next two years, there will be a demand for 500,000 OFWs in Europe, 30,000 in Canada, 30,000 in Australia, 10,000 in New Zealand, and 20,000 in Guam.

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Written by joelguinto

WedUTC2008-10-22T09:31:19+00:00UTC10bUTCWed, 22 Oct 2008 09:31:19 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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