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1m New Jobs a Year Require Sustained Growth of 8%

It is imperative that the business environment should be improved instead of pumping more funds into the domestic market, which is an exhausted option that has proved ineffective
Hassan RouhaniHassan Rouhani

President Hassan Rouhani said the current 8% economic growth his government has achieved toward the end of his four-year tenure needs to be sustained by the next government if it is to generate one million jobs annually.

"The economic growth of 8% achieved by the government in the last Iranian year [ended March 20, 2017] is a prerequisite to creating one million jobs a year," the president said in an interview with state TV on Thursday.

Rouhani's bid for a second term in the May 19 election has faced a fierce challenge from his conservative rivals who have aimed particular criticism at his failure to significantly alleviate unemployment.

Ebrahim Raeisi, the custodian of the holy shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH), and Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf are conservative hopefuls who have claimed that if elected, they would create 1 to 1.5 million jobs per year.

The two are staunch critics of Rouhani's economic policy and campaign on a platform of increasing employment and giving cash handouts manifold.

"Over 10% of our people are in grinding poverty and find it a challenge to meet their most basic needs, whereas we are living in a rich country endowed with vast natural resources," Qalibaf said earlier this month.

Rouhani, who has acknowledged that he has not been able to generate as much employment as he promised during his election campaigning in 2013, warned against plans by his conservative contenders to boost liquidity and highlighted the need to focus on creating a pro-business climate.

Pumping more funds into the domestic market is an exhausted option that has proved ineffective in the past years, the president noted, adding that the business environment should be improved instead.

"Some believe that unemployment can be tackled simply by distributing money or claiming to create plenty of jobs, while what is actually required to raise employment is making people look hopefully at future and feel calm and safe," he said.

The 20-day campaigning will run until 24 hours before the vote.

If none of the six candidates manages to secure over 50% of the votes cast, the final winner will be determined in a runoff a week later.

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