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US ambassador hints Obama may revive efforts to bring home jobs from BPOs

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MANILA, Philippines - US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. hinted on Thursday that reelected President Barack Obama might revive efforts to bring back to the US jobs outsourced to countries such as the Philippines. 

Thomas dropped the hint at a press briefing during which he was asked about the "Bring Jobs Home Act," a key Democratic initiative, which was defeated in the US Senate in July.

The measure sought to grant companies a 20 percent tax break to cover the costs of moving back to the US.

“There was a bill in the Congress, that bill did not pass,” Thomas acknowledged, then added, “But President Obama’s job is the same as President Aquino’s job, to provide job for the Americans, just as President Aquino’s job is to provide jobs to the Filipinos.”

Obama’s reelection has raised apprehensions among BPO companies in the country.

Department of Labor and Employment spokesman Nicon Fameronag refused to comment on the possibility of BPO firms pulling out of the country, saying it would be better to wait for Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, who is in Taiwan, to return.

“For now, we refuse to comment on that,” he said.

The BPO industry, which encompasses contact center services; back offices; medical, legal and other data transcription; animation; software development; engineering design; and digital content has been enjoying a boom.

This year, the BPO Association of the Philippines sees the industry generating $13 billion in revenues on a labor force of 764,000.

The industry is also projected to produce $27 billion in revenues and directly engage some 1.3 million Filipino workers by 2016.

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