Business community divided over draft bill on regulating investment environment

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AMMAN — Representatives of Jordanian investors are rallying to unify their position vis-à-vis a draft investment law recently released by the government. The chairman of Amman Chamber of Industry, Fathi Al-Jaghbir, chaired a meeting with the heads and members of the boards of directors of the chambers of industry in the Kingdom (Jordan, Amman, Zarqa, and Irbid) earlier this week to discuss the proposed draft.اضافة اعلان

The meeting, Jaghbir told Jordan News, comes to unify the views of the chambers of industry in the Kingdom regarding the draft law, and to confirm the unity of the industrial body when it comes to issues and laws that affect its competitiveness.

According to him, the proposed draft failed to clarify the investment environment and does not contain anything related to its development.

There is also “a clear conflict between the action plan for the development of the legislative environment for investments and the proposed draft,” he said.

The task of establishing a single window for the registration and licensing of business activities was assigned to the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Supply, while the Higher Committee for the Development of Inspection was transferred to the Ministry of Investment.

Jaghbir said that the incentives and benefits given to investors and to different sectors should be clear and specific within the draft law.

The proposed bill eliminated existing incentives that were awarded outside development zones by eliminating production input lists, production supplies and fixed assets, and incentives within development zones by changing sales tax from zero to exempted. While this appears to benefit investors in reality it does not because taxes paid on production inputs will no longer be reimbursed.

The draft law did not explicitly provide means for granting residency and citizenships to investors and their families.

Jaghbir also said that the draft law was not in line with the objectives of the Economic Modernization Vision, as it did not contain any provisions relating to entrepreneurial projects, innovation, start-ups, food security projects, and medium and small enterprises, it merely mentioned strategic economic activities without specifying what they are.

Also, once the bill is made into law, it will end incentives in force under the present law, he added. This means that many exemptions granted under the current law will end.

Managing Director of the Jordanian Businessmen Association Tariq Hijazi told Jordan News that the definition of “investor” in the draft is unclear.

“The investor was defined by law as anyone who engaged in any economic activity, which is inaccurate,” he said.

Hijazi added that the proposed amendments do not add value to the national economy and do not create a lucrative and attractive investment environment, only give the impression that there is no stability in Jordan's investment legislation.

He said that business representatives met with a ministerial group last Sunday to present their proposals and were promised that they would be considered.

But Chairman of the Investors Association Majdi Al-Hashlamoun told Jordan News: “I believe that the new law will be a step forward in supporting investors and attracting new investments.”

However, he admitted that there are some remarks regarding the present draft and asked for more clarification of some concepts.

He added that participating in the current discussions on the draft law and taking into account peoples’ remarks is a positive step forward, and stressed that the law gives investors incentives, under certain conditions, and that “in the end, it will be attractive to investors”.

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