PCA President Delfin Wenceslao was among the two guest speakers at the 3rd Kapihan Session organized by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-Bureau of Local Employment (BLE) and the Labor Communication Office (LCO) today at Midas Hotel in Pasay City.
In his brief presentation entitled Industry Trends and Careers in the Construction Sector, Mr. Wenceslao reported that the construction sector posted a less than 1% growth in the first quarter of 2014 and that its share in the country’s GDP declined from 5.6% in the same period of last year to 5.3% this year.
He said the slow start of the sector was brought by several factors, including the contracted growth in private construction at -6%, the decline in mid-income housing, high rise residential and commercial condominiums, and the Central Bank’s stricter monitoring of banks’ exposure to real estate to prevent the formation of a “real estate bubble.”
He also reported that while there was a decline in private construction, there was a 22.3% growth in public construction.
“Growth in public construction can be credited to the increased budget on and improved efficiency of infrastructure spending,” he said, adding that this sector will continue to soar in the next one to two years as long as the Philippine government remains committed to deliver the right infrastructure and reach the international benchmark of 5% share to GDP for infrastructure spending by 2016.
Mr. Wenceslao said the country’s infrastructure sector is lagging behind its neighbors in Asia and that the government should do something to make the country more attractive to investors.
“The government should invest in infrastructure to create an environment that will attract investors,” he noted.
Touching on labor, he said that despite the slowdown in the overall construction sector, its share in the country’s total employment had increased from 6.6% last year to 7% this year.
However, he said the government should provide funds for higher skills training for workers as a means of protecting them.
“Let’s find a way to protect our workers so they cannot be pirated by our neighboring countries,” he said.
He also urged the government to shorten the process so investors from other countries will be enticed to come in and invest in local projects. According to him, shortening the process of implementing projects will attract more investors and will allow the country to catch up with its neighbors in Asia.
“We have to shorten the process to be able to catch up,” said Mr. Wenceslao.
Following his presentation was an open forum with the members of the press. The event served as an avenue for the speakers to exchange views with the press people and discuss recent developments in the construction industry.