IMF head warns Arabs: Cre­ate more jobs or risk fur­ther eco­nomic protests

Arab News - - FRONT PAGE - ALI­CIA BULLER

LON­DON: Chris­tine La­garde, man­ag­ing director of the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund (IMF), on Tues­day called on Arab coun­tries for “ur­gent ac­tion” to cre­ate more jobs or risk fur­ther eco­nomic protests.

“The pub­lic dis­sat­is­fac­tion that is bub­bling up in sev­eral coun­tries is a re­minder that even more ur­gent ac­tion is needed,” La­garde told a two-day con­fer­ence on in­clu­sive growth, held in the Moroc­can city of Marrakesh.

She said 27 mil­lion young peo­ple would join the work­force in the next five years in a re­gion where un­em­ploy­ment stands at 25 per­cent.

In Tu­nisia, where the first Arab Spring protests were held, demon­stra­tions and ri­ots broke out again this month driven by a lack of eco­nomic progress.

Tax in­creases and sub­sidy cuts backed by the IMF were at the cen­ter of much of the anger.

La­garde held talks with Tu­nisian Prime Min­is­ter Youssef Cha­hed, Bloomberg re­ported.

The IMF “un­der­stands the frus­tra­tion of the Tu­nisian peo­ple who have not yet felt the full eco­nomic ben­e­fits of their coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion,” La­garde said.

“This process is dif­fi­cult and takes time. Re­forms are key for peo­ple to reach the point where they be­gin to see un­em­ploy­ment drop and growth pick up.”

Wes Sch­walje, COO of GCC re­search firm Tah­seen Con­sult­ing, told Arab News that ed­u­ca­tion in the re­gion is fail­ing to give young peo­ple the nec­es­sary skills for a knowl­edge­based econ­omy.

“Dis­con­tent among youth is par­tic­u­larly sig­nif­i­cant since there is a strong link be­tween youth bulges ex­pe­ri­enc­ing eco­nomic hard­ship and po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence,” he said.

La­garde said 27 mil­lion young peo­ple would join the work­force in the next five years in a re­gion where un­em­ploy­ment stands at 25 per­cent. (AP)

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