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Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (MPD-SBMA)

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28 January 2009

SBMA readies workers' rescue plan to mitigate recession effects

While the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) considers long-term strategies to mitigate the effects of the economic slowdown that primarily hit the manufacturing sector here, the agency is now preparing a re-integration program to provide safety nets to workers who might be displaced as a result of the global recession.

SBMA Chairman Feliciano Salonga said the Subic authority aims to provide laid-off workers with "lifesaver opportunities" that would include a network and access to training, livelihood programs and related assistance.

Among the training areas eyed for laid-off workers are agro-industry, small-scale enterprise, hospitality service, and short technical courses.

"We're doing this to make sure that the free port's human resources are not frozen while waiting for markets to bounce back," Salonga said.

"Filipinos are born survivors, but they still need assistance. And the SBMA will not hesitate to provide opportunities for our people, who have helped make Subic what it is today," Salonga added.

Salonga said the SBMA has begun a skills-set inventory of affected workers as early as last year when the effects of the credit crunch in the United States began to be felt globally.

Initial data from the study indicated that that most of the bigger electronics manufacturing firms here that supply electronic components to major brands like Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic, IBM, Dell, Intel and Samsung, now expect significant cuts in market demand.

In turn, these companies could be expected to cut costs and reduce manpower, Salonga said.

Salonga added the Subic workers inventory will serve as basis for the development of training programs that the SBMA will implement in partnership with Technology Research Center (TRC), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Technical Skills and Development Authority (TESDA), and the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship (PCE), which has successfully trained entrepreneurs under its "Go Negosyo" program.

He also said the SBMA is now raising a P1-million seed fund to jumpstart the re-integration program, including the setting up of an oversight committee, and the establishment of a "one-stop action center" at the Subic Bay Arts Center (SuBAC).

In particular, Salonga places much hope in the agro-industry and tourism sectors to be able to absorb most of the affected workers.

"We will be focusing on existing job markets, but we will also try to create new markets after studies show that they are feasible," said Salonga.

The new markets with potential in Subic include food processing, handicraft and novelty items, as well as spa services, he added.

Salonga also expressed hope that the Subic economy will survive the economic downturn.

"This recession is a cyclic phenomenon," he said. "Eventually, the global market will go up so the SBMA remains aggressive in keeping and boosting the competitive advantage of doing business in the Subic Bay Freeport." (SBMA Corporate Communications)

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