AMMAN — The government will soon launch a programme to create 10,000 job opportunities, Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour announced on Thursday.

During a ceremony to honour the winners of the 2012 King Abdullah II Award for Free Works and Entrepreneurship, the premier also said that the government is committed to implementing the directives of His Majesty King Abdullah to achieve sustainable development through initiatives such as the Governorates Development Fund, which will finance income-generating projects in rural areas.

The government has already transferred JD3 million to the fund, Ensour said, adding that it will secure a total of JD12 million for the fund before the end of the year, demonstrating its commitment to creating jobs.

These efforts to combat poverty and unemployment, particularly in the governorates, are also intended to reduce demand for public sector jobs, he added.

Omar Omari, director general of the Development and Employment Fund (DEF), said that since its establishment in 1991, the DEF has established more than 70 small- and medium-sized projects at a cost of JD160 million, which provided more than 85,000 job opportunities.

The number of qualifying projects competing for the award has increased to 2,500 in 2012, Omari said, noting that these projects provided 8,000 job opportunities.