Fitch Solutions forecasts the construction industry to rebound this year but stakeholders believe public spending needs to be accelerated for recovery to happen.
The Philippine Constructors Association (PCA) also expressed opposition to a bill seeking to open the market to foreign players.
In a statement, PCA said last year, the construction sector suffered a contraction of 9.8 percent due to lockdown measures implemented to stem the spread of the pandemic.
PCA said the industry has since seen signs of recovery with current numbers from the Philippine Statistics Authority showing 4.2 million Filipinos are employed in construction up from 3.7 million in 2020.
But PCA said Fitch Solutions’ forecast is based on expectations the Philippines will effectively contain the spread of the virus.
The government has allotted more than P1 trillion for infrastructure for 2021.
Meanwhile, Senate Bill 1809 seeks to amend the Contractor’s License Law which will allow “persons, regardless of nationality or citizenship” properly licensed and registered with proper authorities to practice construction contracting in the Philippines.
The bill, if passed into law, will “effectively open the construction industry to foreign contractors without providing any further regulations,” said Wilfredo Decena, PCA president.
Decena said while other countries have taken steps to protect their local industry, some sectors are pushing for the further opening up of the local construction industry.
In a position paper submitted to Senate in response to the said bill, Decena said “the unregulated entry of foreign contractors, especially at this time when the construction industry is bleeding from the COVID-19 pandemic, will adversely affect small and medium-sized Filipino contractors and deprive Filipino workers of job opportunities in their own country.’
Instead of further opening the market up, PCA said the government should instead focus on providing opportunities and growth paths, specially for micro, small and medium contractors, including developing the talent capacity of the local workforce to help the recovery and growth of the construction sector.