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Jobs key to financial recovery

VATICAN CITY (CNS): More decent, productive employment and more credit for small and medium-sized businesses are the best strategies for recovering from the global economic crisis, the chief Vatican representative to United Nations agencies in Geneva said.

There are real “fears that the coming years will be characterised by ‘labour intensive restructuring’ and a ‘jobless recovery'” in which large corporations and stock markets will bounce back, but from which the world’s workers will not benefit, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said.

People need to turn the current crisis into an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of protecting people’s dignity in the work world, “to encourage a lifestyle of sobriety, solidarity and responsibility; and to direct all economic activities to the common good”, he said.

The archbishop made his comments on June 10 during the International Labor Organisation’s annual international labour conference from June 3-19 in Geneva. He sent a copy of his remarks to Catholic News Service on June 11.

As the global economy experiences its deepest downturn in 50 years, labour analysts predict the number of jobless persons around the world will increase by 50 million people, he said.

The Vatican representative said it was “an ethical requirement” for the international labour group to promote a “Global Jobs Pact” to stimulate job creation alongside other measures taken by world leaders to stimulate the economy and credit markets.

Archbishop Tomasi said the current crisis underlined “the frailty of financial wealth and the uncertain role that capital has in our economies”.

He said the world has lost the sense that true value was derived from human labour, not just capital.

“Productive work is at the base of the real economy rather than (financial) speculation that is prompted solely by greed for profit,” Archbishop Tomasi said.

The two avenues toward economic recovery that would be most effective and offer greater respect for human dignity would be to protect and expand employment and sustain small and medium-sized businesses, he said.

Smaller businesses are “particularly penalised by the severe credit crunch” today, he said, but since they account for such a large share of employment, inappropriate credit restrictions against them should be lifted so as to better support these firms.

“Decent work, then, is the main road to overcome the current crisis, a strategy that as well can create the conditions for a stable and lasting economic development,” Archbishop Tomasi said.

Local and national economies must look for ways to invest in people’s creativity and talents, he said, and look for new “forms of participation in the system of production”.

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