More than a million new jobs await Filipinos now working in Kuwait who may have to return home after the Middle Eastern country’s relations with Manila soured over migrant worker issues, Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said Wednesday.
In a statement, Diokno said that the ambitious “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program was expected to generate an average of 1.1 million jobs annually in the medium term, owing to the government’s hefty spending on infrastructure development projects.
“This will help address the country’s unemployment woes, especially with the influx of returning overseas Filipino workers from Kuwait,” Diokno said.
According to government statistics, there were more than 252,000 OFWs in Kuwait, most of whom are working as maids.
Diokno clarified that although “Build, Build, Build” is geared toward infrastructure development, the jobs to be created would be “mostly associated but are not limited to construction.”
“An online jobs portal, which will consolidate job openings, postings and opportunities related to ‘Build, Build, Build,’ is currently in the works and is expected to be up within the year. Moreover, the ‘Build, Build, Build’ committee will also be holding a jobs caravan to present employment opportunities to the public,” according to Diokno.
Under “Build, Build, Build,” the government plans to roll out 75 “game-changing” projects, with about half targeted to be finished within President Duterte’s term, alongside spending more than P8 trillion on hard and modern infrastructure until 2022 in a bid to usher in the “golden age of infrastructure.”
Last month, the World Bank said that the government’s ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait would unlikely dent the robust remittance flows to the Philippines.
The Philippine government in February issued a total ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait upon the instruction of President Duterte.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III had signed an administrative order on the total deployment ban to implement the President’s directive amid investigations on seven Filipino household workers killed in Kuwait.
Among those seven cases was the case of Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found inside the freezer of her employers.
text BEN O. DE VERA
This article was originally published on PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER.