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