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Arroyo OKs labor, business requests

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 16:11:00 02/09/2009

Filed Under: World Financial Crisis, Government, Employment, Labor, Economy and Business and Finance

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has approved several requests forwarded through the regional tripartite wage boards (RTPWBs), including waiving penalties for loans with the Social Security System (SSS) and fuel subsidies for firms in export zones.

Speaking at a jobs summit in Malacañang, the President said that the SSS has agreed to “condone” for one year the penalties and surcharges of members who have been laid off.

Sought for clarification, SSS president Romulo Neri, in a phone interview, said even if the penalties and surcharges would be waived for a year, the interest on the principal loan amount would still be paid.

Neri said the relief would apply only to employees, not to their employers.

“[There was a request] for SSS to condone penalties and surcharges on loans of affected workers [so] in response to this concern raised two weeks ago, SSS is already implementing such a program for one year,” Arroyo said.

“To reduce the cost of business, one suggestion was given two weeks ago to provide fuel subsidy for firms operating in export processing zones that transport workers to and from the zones,” she said.

Another proposal that Arroyo approved was for the government and private sector to share data to come up with an “accurate and reliable picture of the actual impact of the global financial crisis on employment and business.”

“When we were abroad we were hearing strange, huge numbers that just depress the people, but really are very far from what [the situation] really is,” said Arroyo, who arrived in the country last Sunday from a weeklong swing through Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United States.

Arroyo said she was leaving it up to the wage boards to decide on calls for a moratorium on an increase in wages to help businesses cope with the global recession.

“The issue on moratorium on wages can be discussed when wages are due for annual review between July and August,” she said. “That’s why we have business and labor here with us together because those are better left to labor and management to agree on among themselves.”

Stressing the need for a moratorium on wage adjustments, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) chairman emeritus Miguel Varela said: “The focus really is on job preservation, so we’re finding ways on how to reduce costs[s]. Companies are saddled because of this crisis.”

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Written by joelguinto

MonUTC2009-02-09T08:41:10+00:00UTC02bUTCMon, 09 Feb 2009 08:41:10 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am02

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