Draft investment environment law approved, opinions about it vary

Lower House  Parliament
(File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — The Lower House on Tuesday approved the draft law regulating the investment environment for the year 2022, including articles pertaining to the registration and licensing of economic activities.اضافة اعلان

Some articles in the draft law, most prominently Article 15, still arouse the discontent of some experts in the field of investment and of lawmakers, who are asking for a more comprehensive law, free of legal loopholes, which would contribute significantly to attracting investments.

The amendment to Article 15, approved by the House in its Sunday session, guarantees that investors who invest JD5 million or more in a project, or who employ at least 250 Jordanians, will not be affected by any amendment or change in legislative and regulatory provisions.

The article also says that “the investor has the right to demand the non-implementation of these provisions for a period of seven years from the date of achieving either of the two conditions”.

MP Saleh Al-Armouti warned that Article 15 of the draft law “is the most dangerous, especially as it allows the investor to dispose of lands from the state Treasury, and to sell or rent them without accountability or supervision”.

He stressed that “it is not acceptable to give these privileges to and expropriate Treasury lands for the benefit of investors”.

According to Armouti, “the draft law grants investors many privileges and exemptions, and stripped the powers of other laws in their favor, which is bound to confuse the judiciary.”

He added: “It granted the investor the right to suspend any other law presented to the Parliament if the investor feels that it affects the privileges granted him,” a power that, he stressed, is not given to the highest authority or the government.

Tarek Hijazi, managing director of the Jordanian Businessmen Association, told Jordan News that “the draft law does not achieve the results expected from the Economic Modernization Vision, with its investment drive, due to the lack of incentives and the many loopholes that are of no concern to the investor.”

He also said that “the investment incentives are supposed to be clear in the text of the law, especially since an investor is looking to achieving a feasible return on his investments,” adding that incentives should be clearly defined, to overcome “investors’ reluctance to invest and to facilitate investment-related procedures”.

Hijazi stressed the importance of “linking exemptions and incentives to investment in the governorates, which will have a positive impact by creating new jobs and reducing unemployment rates, in addition to helping the growth and development of governorates”.

Fathi Al-Jaghbir, head of the Jordan and Amman Chambers of Industry, said that “over the past two decades, the unpredictability of legislation is one of the most important challenges facing the business and investment environment in the Kingdom,” stressing that “international business reports explicitly indicated that the legislative instability in the Kingdom is one of the main obstacles to business, and contributes to limiting investment attraction and its sustainability.”

He said that “Article 15 came in order to reduce this dilemma and to impose legislative stability on the business and investment environment, in a way that gives the investor reassurance.”

It enables investors, he said, “to plan strategically without any variables that may negatively affect production operations and the growth of their investment, and this will ultimately reflect on providing more job opportunities and creating more added value to the national economy”, he pointed out.

Jaghbir added: “As a business community, we seek to make this article a reference for all investments, as legislative stability is a challenge to the various segments and categories of business.”

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