With Steep Prices and Depressed Wages: Filipinos’ Purchasing Power Slashed by a Third Under Arroyo

With the government’s deregulation policies and the imposition of the Expanded Value-Added Tax, the Pinoy worker’s purchasing power has been slashed by one-third. This, while the much-needed legislated wage hike remains ignored by the government, according to labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno.

Citing the Consumer Price Index timeline released by the National Statistics Office, KMU said that nine years ago, a person only needed P63 to buy the same goods and services that are now worth P100. “This underscores the increasing burden of workers and Filipinos in meeting their daily needs amid rising prices,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

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“The Arroyo regime has done nothing to protect workers and the people from unabated price hikes of oil and basic commodities. Instead, it has created a deregulated environment wherein corporations can reap big profits even as Filipinos reel from the crisis – all in the name of serving foreign and elite interests,” said Labog.

“For instance, the price of a kilo of rice has doubled since 2001 (from P17 to P35-40) because of the country’s increased dependence on rice importation, caused by the lack of government support for the agriculture sector. The price of an 11-kg LPG, meanwhile, has tripled because of the Oil Deregulation Law,” added Labog

Labog said Arroyo’s 12 % E-VAT also contributed to the erosion of Filipino’s purchasing power while making corrupt government officials richer through annual tax collections.

He also said the gap between the minimum wage and the living wage in Metro Manila has doubled to P535 from just P257 in 2001 despite a mere P12-wage increase in August 2007 and P20-hike in May 2008, “clearly indicating that a P125-hike is urgent and necessary.”

“Workers have long pressed for a P125 nationwide wage hike. The government, however, has been so callous in ignoring the legitimate demands of Pinoys who face shrinking chances of living due to price hikes and continued retrenchments. Time and again, it has been proven that a wage hike will not bring inflation up, since prices soar even without a wage increase,” said Labog.

Labog also explained that with the total sellout of Philippine economy as targeted by Arroyo’s Cha-Cha, workers and ordinary citizens will be more vulnerable to limitless price hikes and wage cuts due to a full-blast deregulated environment.

“Those who insist on pushing for Con-Ass are only making workers and the people suffer doubly from a large-scale sabotage of Philippine economy and from the contiuation of Arroyo’s bad economic policies. #

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