Jul 30 2012
By Shaymaa Adel
Azzaman, July 30, 2012
The Ministry of Planning has earmarked $450 million as part of efforts to combat poverty and unemployment in the country, the ministry spokesperson said.
The spokesperson Abdulzahra al-Hindawi said both unemployed and below poverty rates were extremely high in Iraq.
Citing new statistics, he said, unemployment was estimated at 23% and so was the number of Iraqis living below poverty line.
Hindawi said the sum will be used to help the unemployed and poverty-stricken Iraqi families start their own business and also for the construction of homes specifically for low-income groups.
The ministry grants free-interest loans to poor families willing to start their own business. It also runs a social security program that doles out unemployment benefits as well as grants to the handicapped and the disabled.
He said the new figures were obtained from a cross-country survey the ministry has conducted to as part of its National Strategy Plan that calls for the eradication of poverty and reduction of the jobless rate to 16% from the current 23%.
Meanwhile, Hindawi denied reports that the government would scrap the food-rationing system which provides basic food stuffs free of charge for millions of Iraqi families.
“There is no intention to cancel the food-rationing card mainly because most Iraqi families live under poverty line,” he said.
However, he added, the government would go ahead with plans to deny high-income Iraqis earning more than 1.5 million Iraqi dinars (approx. $1500) per month access to the free-food basket.
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