French Polynesia blighted by unemployment
The number of job seekers in French Polynesia has reached a new peak with youth unemployment at record levels.
The number of job seekers in French Polynesia has reached a new peak, with youth unemployment at record levels.
More than 17,000 people have registered for work, but unlike in France, there is no benefit paid for those failing to find a job.
Walter Zweifel asked the publisher of the Tahiti Pacifique monthly, Alex du Prel, why the figures are so high.
ALEX DU PREL: There is one reason and that is every year because of births a new generation coming up. You have
about 2,500 young people who arrive on the job market. On the other side, we've lost about 15,000 jobs in the past six years.
WALTER ZWEIFEL: When the new government came to power last year, Gaston Flosse, with a hiss and roar, seemed to suggest people would find work. Have these jobs not been created?
AP: The problem is that he has a big project and has been presented but nothing has produced jobs so far. It won't have any effect on new hiring for six months or a year before the new project starts. It really got disastrous because we have got a system over here where you get free medical if you don't have any revenue. And we have right now on a population of 270,000 people, we have 200,000 people who are dependent on this free medical system which we call the Regime de la Solidarite Territoriale or RST.
WZ: Talk is that unemployment among people under 25 is 50 percent. Is that a correct figure?
AP: That sounds about right. 25 percent general, but if you go below 25 years old, it'll be about half the population. As we don't have any dole, a social system like in France over here.... I've talked to school teachers..you have very dire, very critical conditions going on in many families.
WZ: Is there any hope that the situation is likely to improve soon?
AP: No. Our main problem is that our main resource used to be the nuclear until 1996 or let's say 2003, the main revenue, let's say the resource, of the territory were the nuclear tests and the money France would pour into it. Also France would make big effort to make Tahiti a modern nation. That created on the other side the huge public servants sector, which - don't forget - it's still paid two and half time what the private sector pays with many benefits and so on. And as the political class is all issued from the public sector, they don't want to touch it. So we are at the point now where we've lost our main resource which is the nuclear test and yet our expenses have not been diminished. And France is bankrupt, too, they don't have the money any more like they had before and could spread around. We are going through a major crisis over here."
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