Archive for the ‘Informal Sector’ Category

Wigberto Tañada, Lead Convenor

We, at the Fair Trade Alliance, are happy to be part of this conference-workshop on social protection for the informal sector. The informals are indeed the most numerous and yet they are the least protected. No minimum wage. No overtime pay. No night differential. No collective bargaining. No health insurance. No pension system. No death and accident benefits. Mahirap mabuhay, mahirap ding mamatay.

According to the ILO, the informals constitute 65 per cent of the work force. If I may borrow from one old folk wisdom, God so loves the informals, He made so many of them.

The army of the informals is large and keeps growing. Every city and town in the Philippines today is teeming with the informals. Inpormal sa kalunsuran, inpormal sa kanayunan. In fact, you easily see them in the proliferation of cardboard villages all over the country.

Why are the informals multiplying? Why is the informal economy large and growing?

The answer is not difficult to find. Because the formal economy is not growing fast enough. Because the creation of good, quality and protected jobs is not moving fast enough. Because the Philippines has failed to industrialize – despite five decades of IMF’s so-called assistance and despite three and a half decades of World Bank’s ‘structural adjustment’ program for the country.

In short, the large and growing informal economy is a giant testimony to the grand failure of the economic technocrats to build a modern and progressive economy based on their narrow concept of development — That growth automatically happens when the market is liberalized and opened up. This is exactly what the government did. In the l980s and l990s, the industrial and agricultural sectors were opened up. In fact, we cut our tariffs way below those of other countries and way below our own commitments to the WTO. And look what happened. Natimbuwang parang mga cardboard boxes ang ating mga pabrika. Maraming na-lay-off. Ang ating agrikultura ay di na umusad. From a net agricultural exporter up to l994, the Philippines, starting in 1995, has become a net agricultural importer. This year we are headed towards the importation of two (2) million tons of rice, the highest in the country’s history. And yet, our agricultural officials are even thinking of setting aside 1.24 million hectares for Chinese investors, to allow them to grow hybrid rice, hybrid corn and hybrid sorghum. For whom? Of course, for the Chinese, not for the hungry Filipinos.

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  • Founded in 2001, the Fair Trade Alliance (FairTrade) of the Philippines is a broad multisectoral coalition of formal and informal labor, industry, agriculture, NGOs and youth pushing for trade and economic reforms.
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