Jobs will be rare as gold

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    IF you have a job now, cherish and treasure it, love your job for soon, there will be job losses, economic slowdown, mass layoffs and business closures.

    All because of the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

    The pandemic every nation in the world likens to a juggernaut, with the US comparing it to Pearl Harbor, while other nations pushed the comparison deeper into history: the Black Plague and the Spanish flu of World War I.

    Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, spokesman of IATF fighting the coronavirus crisis, was trying to assuage the fears of the nation’s workforce when he said that the government is determined to explore alternative work opportunities for local and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who will be displaced by the coronavirus-related global economic slowdown.

    Nograles said many Filipinos may lose their jobs but can still be re-deployed to other industries that will “flourish” even during the coronavirus pandemic.

    The reintegration program of the displaced workers will form part of the contingency plans being readied by the government amid the adverse impact of the coronavirus on the economy and the people, he assured.

    Nograles said a technical working group led by the National Economic and Development (NEDA) has already been directed to craft strategies on forward economic planning. The plan includes rebuilding of consumer and business confidence and the resumption of a new normal state of economic activities.

    Close to 9,000 OFWs, both land-based and seafarers, have returned home since the public health crisis caused by COVID-19. The government expects 23,000 more Filipino workers from abroad will lose their jobs and return, too, in the next few weeks.

    Aside from the potential loss of millions of dollars in their remittances, there will be the stark problem of finding jobs for these OFWs, and providing food for their families amid a very tight employment market.

    Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III earlier said they have set aside a P1.5-billion cash assistance package for affected overseas Filipino workers estimated to reach about 70,000. This budget is barely enough, considering that we do not know when the pandemic will end locally.

    One thing is sure: unemployment numbers will surge, and we better be prepared for hard times.

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