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The Minister of Labor: Lebanon’s unemployment rate exceeds 23% amidst poor estimates and limited initiatives

28-3-2014

The Minister of Labor, Sejaan Azzi, expressed his concern with the high unemployment rate in Lebanon.  He also highlighted the contradictions and poor quality of existing statistics.  Azzi was speaking with Al Moustakbal newspaper during the meeting of the High Cost of Living Committee which agreed on putting a halt on the unnecessary foreign labour in Lebanon as well as the need to study and review the existing statistics.
Azzi compared unemployment in Lebanon which reached 11% according to some sources with 11.7% in France and 23% in Spain.  He doubted the veracity of the Lebanese figures whilst confirming that unemployment is high amongst the youth.  According to him, unemployment rate ranges between is 22 – 23% and rises to 33% amongst the youth.  He added that these figures are very alarming.  He also insisted on the importance of reviewing the present very centralized structure of the state and moving into widespread decentralization.
With regards to estimates of high cost of living, the president of the General Confederation of Lebanese Workers (CGTL) noted in an interview with An Nahar that an agreement was reached to review the figures of the Central Administration for Statistics with the CGTL, the economic institutions and other statistical institutions in order to determine accordingly the needed adjustments to salary scales in accordance with clause 6 of the high cost of living decree.
On the other hand, Azzi revealed that he has signed a project document which introduces “first jobs for youth”.  The project is implemented by the National Employment Agency and the ILO with a LBP 10 billion funding from the World Bank and ILO.  Within this project, any employer can hire young people between 18 to 25 years of age with the Ministry reimbursing the employer 10% of the salary.  The employer will also receive a one year waiver of NSSF fees as well as a waiver on VAT related to that same employee.
Source: Al-Mustaqbal, Al-Nahar, Al-Safir 28 March 2014

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