As the economic situation of the Islamic Republic of Iran deteriorates, more Iranians looking for a job flee the country, often to the peril of their life and that of their families.

The drowning of seven Iranians, including three children in the river between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina and the arrest of more than 30 others in Croatia last month sounded the alarm bells.

At about the same time, it was reported that two groups of Iranians have been arrested in a Russian port trying to embark clandestinely into a ship leaving for Japan.

Russian authorities said the number of Iranians arrested in Russian ports is increasing dramatically and for their part, the Japanese also reports the arrest of more Iranians who enters the country illegally.

There are similar accounts in Greece and in Turkey as well as in Italy.

The great numbers of the Iranians who leave Iran in the hope to find some job "anywhere", but particularly in Western and some Asian countries where the economic situation is booming are young and generally without qualification, having no political motive.

According to latest official reports, the rate of unemployment in Islamic Republic is between 12.5 to 14 percent, but in the absence of any independent research organisation, expert put the number closer to 20 per cent.

While officials express optimism concerning the economic situation of the "Mullahrchy", independent economists points out that the heavily centralised economy, probably one of the very few in the world, coupled with harsh Islamic laws are the main reason behind the lack of investments, both foreign and domestic, in industrial projects in Iran.

Mr. Mohsen Nurbakhsh, the General Director of the Central Bank of Iran said the government would end the present Iranian year (ending in March 2001) with more than 3 billions US Dollars in revenues as a result of the sharp increase in the oil prices.

He also said that the 6 per cent growth rate forecast by the third five years plan would help the government to keep with the creation of 765.000 jobs per year at a constant level.

But other Iranian experts observed that in the last 20 years, different governments have created 1.800.000 jobs only while the number of young people reaching the work age imposes the creation of around one million jobs per year.

Thus the dramatic "job drain".

To the fully, Marxist-type centralised economic system, large subsidies, wide spread corruption, inflation, continuing price rise, mostly for the basic food stuff and housing, changing and often contradictory trade and financial regulations, the existence of foundations, some of them, like the sprawling Deprived Foundation better known as "Bonyad" which presents no account of their multiple and sometimes lucrative activities to the government and many other obstacles, one has to add three consecutive years of severe drought that has devastated the Iranian agriculture, making Iran the major importer of wheat and rice among other necessities.

To this "job drain" one has to add a flight of Iranian capitals, as according to a senior Iranian economist who asked for anonymity, in the last year that marked a continuing struggle between the defeated conservatives with the reformists, more than 3000 small and medium-size firms have been created in the United Arab Emirate with Iranian capitals. ENDS JOB DRAIN 8600

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