US giant GE to hire more workers in PH

Posted at 08/17/12 12:56 PM

MANILA, Philippines - General Electric Co. says it is adding hundreds of jobs in the Philippines this year, a big number because the US giant has just 1,000 people in the country.

GE vice chairman John Rice says the company is expanding everywhere.

"They'll end up in being in all of our businesses. What we've recognized is there's tremenodus potential. We need more commercial people, service people, infrastructure businesses and financial service business," he said.

But while the company sells everything from light bulbs to medical equipment to jet engines here, it doesn't produce much.

That's an issue for economists and other observers who say the country needs to boost manufacturing jobs, not just BPO jobs so there will be more opportunities for Filipinos with less formal education, so growth will be inclusive.

The problem? Not market size - the Philippines has that. Not governance - where the government is improving.

It's the ease of doing business where the Philippines keeps doing poorly.

"Cost is a factor but honestly regulations and ease of doing business. Ability to move in and out of a country even if manufacturing here tends to have global supply chain in other countries... Those are hidden costs ... It's a huge impediment to business expansion.

"I'd say there's progerss being made and we'd love to see more progress."

Despite that, Rice says the Philippines is in the top quadrant of countries in terms of attractiveness. Enough for GE to plan to manufacture smart electric meters here.

"We're looking at a relatively small investment in smart meter technology... It will be a small operation in the beginning but who knows," he said.

Rice was here for Innovation Day, when the company meets with customers to create solutions and new businesses. And hopefully, even more jobs.