Principlist Defends Pledge to Generate Millions of Jobs

Ebrahim Raeisi
Ebrahim Raeisi

Presidential contender Ebrahim Raeisi defended his electoral promise to create 1 to 1.5 million jobs per year should he win office, describing it "well-studied" and "plausible".

Raeisi, 56, the custodian of the holy shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH), was speaking in an interview with state TV on Sunday, as part of his campaign that started concurrent with those of five other candidates for the May 19 vote on April 21.

The promise by Raeisi has been criticized by experts for being unrealistic and President Hassan Rouhani who is running for reelection this year has described it as an electioneering slogan.

Raeisi, alongside the other principlist candidate, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, are the main challengers of Rouhani.

Both candidates, affiliated with the Popular Front of Islamic Revolution Forces, have focused their campaign on economy.

During two televised debates held in recent weeks, they faulted Rouhani for failing to end Iran's economic stasis during his four years in office.

Raeisi said his job-creation promise is based on the sixth five-year development plan (2017-22) that requires the government to bring down the unemployment rate from the current 12% to 8% and he believes the huge untapped potentials in the country will allow him to accomplish the tough task.

"If we follow this government's footsteps, it would take up to 10 years to provide all the current unemployed with jobs. But we should note that every year, a high number of university graduates are joining job-seekers and without such a plan, unemployment would be a permanent problem for our country," he said.

To fulfill the pledge, Raeisi said his prospective administration would first try to give impetus to over 17,000 manufacturing units that are either closed or operate below capacity.

The presidential hopeful said housing construction and agricultural processing are his other priorities, as they are capable of creating plenty of jobs.


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