ILO projects Mideast unemployment rate to range between 9 and 11 percent.
Summary: The unemployment rate in the Middle East region is rising to between 9 and 11 percent this year, said the director general of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Juan Somavia on Monday, which he described as being "only the tip of the iceberg".Aa"A jobless recovery will not be sustainable; not socially, not economically, not politically," said Somavia.
BEIRUT: The unemployment rate in the Middle East region is rising to between 9 and 11 percent this year, said the director general of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Juan Somavia on Monday, which he described as being "only the tip of the iceberg".Aa"A jobless recovery will not be sustainable; not socially, not economically, not politically," said Somavia, adding that the central objective is a rapid recovery in employment, together with a basic social protecting floor that goes hand in hand with economic recovery.Aa
His remarks came during the opening of the Arab employment forum held at the Metropolitan Palace Hotel in Beirut to discuss the impact of the global financial crisis on the employment trends at the global and regional levels and the measures that should be taken to face the negative repercussions caused by the crisis.Aa
Somavia believes that exceptional measures are required today to address the employment and social crisis. He mentioned the global jobs pact, which is the ILO's "tripartite response to the crisis," and said it received strong recognition from the United Nations and recently from the G20 leaders.Aa
"The global jobs pact is about a productive vision through investment in the real economy, sustainable enterprises, innovation and decent work," he said. Somavia also said that the pact includes the empowerment of woman and men through investment in skills development and the protection of people during the crisis through income support, access to healthcare and unemployment benefits.Aa
He said the task is now to build a new model of sustainable and productive growth, with sustainable enterprises and decent work, with dynamic markets operating within a framework of share public policy objectives and not oblivious of the environment but concerned with the most vulnerable.Aa
"We cannot pretend to recover fully from this crisis with the same policies that have brought us into the crisis," he added.Aa
Somavia's remarks about the need of achieving sustainable growth were echoed by the general secretary of the general union of chambers of commerce, industry and agriculture for the Arab countries Imad Shehab who said that basic indicators show a modest recovery of the global economy which is mainly due to the huge amounts of money pumped by governments around the world under the title of financial incentive packages.Aa
"The financial incentive packages were only successful in stopping the slowdown of GDP to an expected rate of 2.5 percent in 2009. However, this is not enough and the world is still waiting for the return of big investments which will guarantee the achievement of sustainable growth," he said.Aa
The statistics provided by the general secretary of the international confederation of Arab Trade Unions Hassan Djemam are slightly different from those provided by Somavia. Djemam said the unemployment rate at the beginning of this decade reached 13 percent in the Middle East and added that this number will most likely increase in the coming years as a result of the global financial crisis. "We will be in need of more than 90 million job opportunities by 2020," he said.Aa
Djemam added that unemployment was the biggest challenge facing the world today, and said that the rate of people occupying odd jobs in the Arab world surpassed 50 percent.Aa
According to a report recently published by the ILO, indicators of GDP growth and unemployment expected for 2009 suggest that the crisis is going to hit the region more forcefully in the near future.Aa
Real GDP growth is projected to shrink to 4 percent in 2009 compared to 6 percent in 2007, it added. This figure is different to the figure given by Somavia who said that the region's aggregate growth is projected to drop to 2 percent in 2009.Aa
Ahmad Luqman, director general of the Arab labor organization, praised the recommendations issued by the Kuwait summit in January 2009 which included an increase in the yearly growth rate of production in the Arab world by 1 percent in addition to encouraging the support of small and medium enterprises and creating an Arab funding for that purpose.Aa
"The summit recommended as well the facilitation of Arab labor movement between Arab countries and the establishment of an Arab tariff zone before 2015 in addition to an Arab common market before the beginning of 2020," he added.
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|Publication:||The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)|
|Date:||Oct 20, 2009|
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