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Facing unemployment

Experts say rising unemployment could threaten the


country's fragile economic situation unless the
government steps in, Mona El-Fiqi reports

[n the course of the past month, tens of thousands


of Egyptian workers who escaped from Libya, due
to the current unrest, returned home to join
millions of universities, high school graduates and
others in the difficult mission of finding a job.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, over


180,000 workers returned from Libya until 10
March, to add their names to the millions of
unemployed registered by the government.

According to the Central Agency for Public


Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), the
unemployment rate during the last quarter of 2010
was 8.9 per cent compared to 9.4 per cent during
the same period in 2009. Abu Bakr El-Guindi,
CAPMAS chairman, explained in a press
conference last week that although the
unemployment rate was reduced in 2010, it is
expected to rise in the coming period if the
different sectors of the economy do not start
working at full capacity.

Unemployment rate is only one of the economic


indicators which will be affected by the current
instability in Egypt. El-Guindi expected the
growth rate to drop from 5.8 to 3.8 per cent, and
the budget deficit to rise from 7.9 to 8.5 per cent.
Haindi Abdel-Azim, former president of Al-Saciai ,
Academy /or Administrative Sciences, explained
that the reason behind the reduction of (I 1
unemployment rate during 20/0 was the increase 2
of foreign direct investments (FD1) flow to reach 1
$8.5 billion, which provided job opportunities for (
a large number of workers. Since the FDI is <
currently on hold and local projects are also <
unstable, Unemployment rate is expected to rise <
unless the government carries the burden, ol
establishing joint ventures with the private sector, (
particularly • in the agricultural and industrial
sectors.

According to Abdel-Azim, the government should


boost local tourism and activate the stock market.
The banks should provide facilities to finance new
investments when a good feasibility study is
available.

For a start, last week the government began to


apply some procedures to control” the
unemployment rate. Minister-of Manpower and
Immigration Ahmed Hassan El-Borai decided to
stop issuing work permits for foreigners in the
coming period except for highly skilled persons
with rare specializations. The aim of the decision
is to keep jobs for Egyptian workers.

the move was welcomed by experts who argue


that it will save job opportunities for Egyptians
and prevent employers from taking advantage
from the presence of. foreigners in the market.

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