Syria's population will soar by nearly 50 percent in the next 10 years, and the country will need $100 billion to create jobs for the millions of new people entering the labor force, an economist said Thursday.
Aref Dalila, economics professor at the University of Damascus, said that in 2010 Syria's population will have grown by seven million from its currently estimated 17 million, with three million more people looking for jobs.
Speaking at the opening of an international seminar on investment in Syria, Dalila said the lowest estimates are that $10 billion a year in investment is needed to create jobs and eliminate unemployment. "We should redouble our efforts to find the necessary investments," calling on the government to increase its contributions.
The government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mustapha Miro recently launched a billion dollar program against unemployment aimed at creating 440,000 new jobs.
Dalila said potential investors are demonstrating "great interest" in Syria and its still untapped human and natural resources. "Investors could realize significant profits under the right conditions," he said.
Some 400 potential investors, including the International Finance Corporation, the private investment branch of the World Bank, are gathered for a conference in Damascus Thursday and Friday aimed at promoting the Syrian economy. The conference is the first of its kind to be organized in Damascus since the start of the policy of economic openness some ten years ago. — (AFP, Damascus)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)