Ali Sindi, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s minister of planning. Photo: Rudaw video
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—Unemployment in the Kurdistan Region has hit 14% and is much higher among women and youth. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has appealed for help from world economic bodies to implement an economic reform plan to boost private sector employment.
“The unemployment, before in 2013, was 6.5%, which by world standards is reasonable. But in 2014 the rate increased to 14%,” Ali Sindi, the KRG’s minister of planning, said at the KRG Social Protection Strategic Framework conference in Erbil on Wednesday.
The KRG ministry of planning announced a three-year reform plan in partnership with the World Bank in May to reboot the economy and overcome a severe financial crisis that has gripped the region for more than two years.
“I ask the international community especially the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to support implementation of the KRG reform plan,” Sindi said on Wednesday.
The three year strategic plan involves a boost to the private sector as the majority of the Kurdistan Region population relies on the public sector for an income. “53% of Kurdistan’s people rely on the public sector for their livelihood,” Mohammed Hawdyani, KRG minister of labor and social affairs, said at the conference on Wednesday.
“The statistics show that the social security laws were not successful in Kurdistan,” Hawdyani added.
The KRG reform plan was launched in May and will be implemented over 3 years, through to 2020. Via this plan, the KRG wants to create more job opportunities and establish a fund for paying pensions and social security for the private sector labor force.
The unemployment rate has been increasing in the Kurdistan Region, especially among youth and women. According to statistics, the unemployment rate among women is 29.4% and among men is 9.7%.
Among Kurdish youth between the ages of 15 and 24, the unemployment is 24% for men and 69% for women.
Women’s participation in the economy is at 14.8%.
There are 1.3 million people in the labor force in the Kurdistan Region, with 247,000 retired, and 90,000 receiving social security support.
Within the past four years, the salary and pension load on the government has doubled, demanding a hefty portion of the national budget.
European Union foreign ministers in Brussels and G7 leaders in Japan in May pledged $3.6 billion in loans to Iraq, stating that the Kurdistan Region must also benefit from these loans.