TRAINING & JOBS: CRUCIAL IN ELIMINATING POVERTYSpeech of Nene Pimentel at the Tipanan Learning Session of the Philippine Society for Training and Development, PICC, August 19, 2010
President Jesse Rebustillo, Officers and Members of the PSTD, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Allow me to thank you for your kindness in inviting me to be your Guest Speaker at this monthly gathering of your organization.
I consider it an honor and a privilege for me to participate in this event because your organization, the PSTD, is doing a lot of service to our people whether they are aware of it or not.
Big people in government and in private sector talk and talk endlessly about the major problems of our country, one of which is invariably identified as the massive poverty of the people.
But how do they propose to combat poverty so as to reduce – if not eliminate - it?
As experts, they have so many answers but up to this time, poverty still stares us in the face.
Hope in PSTD
But there’s hope especially when organizations like yours address the need of training people to take on jobs if and when they are available.
Of course jobs are still scarce but it does not mean that it will stay that way forever.
MATING SKILLS WITH JOBS
With proper government support, we can make jobs multiply in our lifetime. And when that happens, a pool of trained workers qualified to handle those jobs becomes indispensable.
Before we try to explain how to create jobs for our people, let me first say that without proper training, one’s usefulness or productivity would be severely limited.
And that is where your organization proves most helpful in that your training of people will surely lead to their development as useful and productive individuals.
In that respect, your society appears to have leaped over some of the more disturbing conventional thinking of some leaders of our society.
For instance, there is a misguided concept that over-population is the cause of poverty. While it is true that too many people indeed cause pressure on the resources of a country, it is not the reason for the shocking lack of food, clothing, shelter and other basic needs of people.
There are any number of other countries which have more people inhabiting per square kilometer of their lands than ours and yet they are more prosperous than we are.
For example, the population per square kilometer in Hong Kong is (PUT CORRECTED FIGURE) and in Japan, (PUT CORRECTED FIGURE) Yet the per capita incomes of their people - in Hong Kong, US$30,747 and in Japan, US$39,727 are much higher than ours which is only US$1745 even as our population per square kilometer is only 306.6.
I suggest that the endemic problem of poverty that plagues our country lies mainly in the concentration of too much wealth in the hands of a privileged few while too many people struggle for sheer existence. In the words of the more perceptive, it is a question simply of equitably distributing the wealth of the nation. As the great Mahatma Gandhi, I think, once put it, “There are enough resources for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed.”
Neither is laziness the cause of poverty among our people. Of course, being lazy contributes to the poor status of life of many of our citizens.
In my growing up years in my city in Cagayan de Oro, I knew of a handful of men who sweated from the break of dawn to the sunset doing arrastre work at the wharf of our city. They certainly were not lazy. If at all, they were overworked and underpaid and unprotected by government from the exploitation of the powerful.
Many of them are already probably dead today. But the families they had left behind are not better off than when they began life.
Creation of jobs
What then is the solution to the huge problem of poverty in the country?
As I insinuated minutes ago, I suggest that it is the creation of jobs for our people.
Jobs that produce goods that may be marketed both here and abroad. Jobs that pay them a decent wage which enable them to feed, shelter and clothe their families. Jobs that they are capable of doing well - which is what your organization is preparing the jobless masses for.
The crucial question, however, remains: where would the jobs come from?
Good business environment
My unsophisticated answer to that is jobs can only come from business. It is business that can provide jobs for our people.
Not government. The government cannot and should not make it its business to provide jobs. Otherwise, all the money that people’s taxes pay to the government will go into salaries, wages and perks of the “15-30” government employees and nothing will be left to cover the delivery of basic services.
What should government do?
I submit that government should create a good environment for business – domestic or foreign - to flourish in this country.
To do that government should pass laws that are fair, prescribe policies that are predictable and pursue practices that are easy for business to follow, and are corruption free.
Once individual or corporate investors – local or foreign - find that doing business in the country is encouraged and protected by the government, jobs will be created as a matter of course.
Then, among other things, negatively we will see the end of jobless people swarming all over the offices of politicians – local and national – begging for dole-outs in all manner and form.
RESTORE HUMAN DIGNITY
And on the positive side, the human dignity that had forsaken the unemployed for so long would now be theirs once again. The reason is that decent paying jobs would enable them to house their families, send their children to school, medicate any ailing member of their families, and, at least, entitle them to live lives worthy of human beings.
And for certain, decent paying jobs would free the jobholders from servile dependence on political party bosses during the electoral period. They will thus be more likely than not to choose the right leaders for the country.
That is how crucial jobs are for our people in our collective struggle to ward off the evils of poverty in our country.
Stamp out corruption
In passing allow me to mention that corruption unchecked indeed impacts adversely on the development of the nation. Instead of our people’s getting a 100% delivery value on basic services that government owes them, we are now told that roughly between 30 to 40% goes into the pockets of corrupt dealers of government transactions.
Corruption should, therefore, be stamped out anywhere it rears its ugly head – at the local levels of government: in the barangay, the municipality, the city, the province or the region and in the bowels of the national government departments.
President needs help
The nation knows that President Noynoy has made it his priority to do so. Which is good. But he needs the help of people to cleanse the Augean stables of government agencies controlling or supervising business activities in the country. Considering the gargantuan nature of the problem of corruption, the President must have the assistance of all well-meaning citizens and especially in the corporate world for him to succeed.
Specifically, may I suggest that the business community - the corporate moguls especially - should perhaps publicly organize themselves into a no-bribe business association as a group of contractors did in South Africa. By doing so, they would restrain themselves from offering bribes to facilitate their transactions with government officials. Without bribes being offered, there would be less bribe takers. And if weaklings in high government offices know that the business community itself has taken a stand against bribery, there would be lesser demands for bribes.
PEOPLE MUST HELP THEMSELVES
Before I end, let me repeat that the most practical, doable and legal way to minimize, if not end, the grinding poverty of our people is the creation of jobs in an environment that is free of corruption.
But even before those jobs become reality, the training and development of the capacities of people that your organization is doing creatively prepares our people to bear a huge part of the process of their redemption from the mire of hopelessness that has been their lot for centuries.
Incidentally, the idea that people must help themselves and not leave their deliverance from their dire straits is a truism that is as real today as it was in the days of Adam and Eve.
PSDT’s GOOD WORK
Let me end by congratulating your organization, the PSTD under the leadership of my friend, Jesse Rebustillo, which to repeat is doing what needs to be done to equip the poor, the deprived and the oppressed with the training and development of their latent talents in order to liberate them from the evils of deprivation.
I hope and pray that our people in government and in small business as well as in the corporate world would see the need sooner than later to support the self-less efforts of your organization, the PSTD, to wipe out the blight of poverty that has degraded and humiliated our people for centuries.
Salamat po and God bless.