Unemployment up to 3.72m
By Qamar Jabbar
LAHORE: Unemployment rose from 3.65 million in 2003 to 3.72 million in 2004, Finance Division sources said on Sunday.
The sources said unemployment had increased during General Pervez Musharraf’s regime from 7.82 percent in 2000 to 8.27 percent in 2004. During Nawaz Sharif’s regime, unemployment declined from 6.12 percent in 1997 to 5.89 percent in 1999, the sources added. Unemployment in rural areas has risen to 7.55 percent in 2004 from 6.94 percent in 2000, but the unemployment rate in urban areas has decreased to 9.80 percent in 2004 from 9.92 percent in 2000. There are currently around 2.28 million jobless people in the rural areas and 1.44 million in the urban areas.
The government has decided to create more jobs or issue smart loans in the next financial year to accommodate unemployed young people, said the sources. The smart loans will be issued through the Khushali Bank, which lent Rs 2.135 billion loans to 210,784 people from August 2000 to March 2004.
The government has also decided to send 350,000 workers abroad this year as compared to 215,443 people sent in 2003 and 149,125 people in 2002, a 44.5 percent increase in manpower exporting.
The government signed a memorandum of understanding with the Malaysian government on October 20, 2003 for sending more skilled and unskilled manpower to Malaysia.
The Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Bank predicts Rs 1,250 million financing to over 2,500 SMEs in the year ending December 2004, the sources added.