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Former NEDA chiefs call on gov’t to address inequalities caused by the pandemic

THE GOVERNMENT should push for more targeted assistance to address inequalities that affect vulnerable groups, two former socio-economic planning chiefs said.

“This big issue about increasing inequality, and a big part of that is coming from this digital divide access to schools, access to health, access to employment, access to almost everything now depends so much on access to the Internet, access to good, quality telecom facilities,” Philippine Competition Commission Chairman Arsenio M. Balisacan, who is also a former secretary of the National Economic and Development Authority, said at an online forum of the Philippine Economic Society on Friday.

He said there should be targeted internet allowance for students that are much in need of access for virtual learning.

Mr. Balisacan added grants to small businesses as well as focused wage subsides for contact-intensive sectors could also be looked into.

Emmanuel F. Esguerra, another former NEDA chief who is now a professor at the Development Academy of the Philippines, recommended a national survey on Filipinos’ sentiment regarding the new normal, especially its impact on their work life.

He noted adopting work-from-home arrangements in the long-term will impact the work-life balance of employees.

“It (work from home) is therefore bound to cast a spotlight on existing labor laws as it already has in relation to gig economy, especially on the question of who is an employee and who deserves protection under the labor laws,” Mr. Esguerra said. — LWTN

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