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French Version

Egypt makes tackling unemployment a priority

Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmad Nazif said plans to tackle crippling unemployment levels are high on the agenda of his new government program, which he unveiled Monday in Parliament. "The Cabinet gives priority to job creations in order to absorb the growing workforce and implement President [Hosni] Mubarak's program for 4.5 million new jobs in six years," he said.

According to official figures, unemployment in Egypt - a country of 73 million - is just under 10 percent but independent observers say it is twice that.

Revealing his program to MPs, Nazif promised $260 million in funding for small and medium-sized enterprises, which he said should lead to the creation of 150,000 jobs.

In addition, "some 130,000 jobs will be created each year through other means of funding such as bank loans," said the premier, whose Cabinet was sworn in a month ago.

Nazif said the funding of larger projects should generate 240,000 jobs each year and also promised the creation of some 125,000 jobs in the tourism industry.

"We are hoping to increase the number of tourists by one million every year," he said. According to government figures, the number of tourists who visited Egypt rose from 8.1 to 8.6 million in 2005.

Nazif said that the unwieldy number of civil servants paralyzed the economy and added that young Egyptians should be educated and encouraged to set up their own businesses.

During Mubarak's campaign for Egypt's first multi-candidate presidential election in September last year, the president made ambitious promises on the economic and social fronts.

In addition to the creation of 4.5 million jobs, he vowed to hike the salaries of five to seven million civil servants by 75 to 100 percent, build half a million new housing units, thousands of miles of roads, 3,500 schools and 1,000 factories.

Cairo,02 06 2006
The Daily Star
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