Gov’t aware of economic pain felt by Jordanians — Ississ

Finance Minister Mohamad Al-Ississ. (Photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — Finance Minister Mohamad Al-Ississ said on Monday that the general budget for 2022 cannot be described as traditional, or similar to “previous ones”.اضافة اعلان

During the government’s response to deputies’ remarks, he said that the budget seeks to raise the standard of living of citizens, create jobs, and provide social protection while maintaining financial stability.

“It is not possible to describe raising capital spending by 43.6 percent, for the first time in years, as traditional,” he said.

Ississ stressed that the government is aware of the economic pain and financial difficulties experienced by Jordanians, and that the feeling of frustration felt by ambitious youth looking for work is a real danger. He noted that the decrease in the purchasing power in light of the rise in living expenses is also real as well.

“The government believes that the people’s ambition for a better standard of living and a brighter future for their children is legitimate,” he said.

Ississ said that the government has begun reviewing agreements related to energy projects, in view of the need to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the energy sector.

“The terms of the contracts will be negotiated with the owners of these projects, especially the price at which electricity is sold, to reduce the financial burden on the national electricity company and thus reduce the price of selling electricity for all sectors,” Ississ added.

The minister said that the government will improve water supply through major projects, to reduce water losses, and will carry out a comprehensive study of groundwater sources, adding that the government is preparing to launch a tender for the national water carrier project.

Ississ said that economic policy in the next stage will mainly focus on pursuing structural reform to maintain fiscal and monetary stability, enhance a competitive business environment, simplify and automate procedures and reduce the costs of doing business and production inputs, including energy, water and transport, with emphasis on transition to a tech based economy and a Fourth Industrial Revolution.

He said the priorities also include increasing and diversifying Jordanian exports, targeting new markets through promotion programs, enhancing competitive advantage besides measures to remove labor market distortions and increase the chances to secure financing at “acceptable” cost.

The government, he pointed out, has secured financing alternatives at a lower cost and replaced commercial loans with soft loans, as it committed not to impose new taxes or raise fees, while stepping up tax collection and evasion measures and standardizing the customs tariff with a 5 percent or zero customs duty on 93 percent of imports.

He also cited employment measures including the allocation of JD80 million for the National Employment Program, earmarking an additional JD50 million to prop up the tourism sector this year, JD20 million for the Estidama (sustainability) program for jobs, JD27 million for reducing the electricity tariff for small and medium sized industries, JD30 million for the industry support program, financing the agriculture strategy recently approved by the government and raising financial allocations for the agricultural sector by 17 percent.

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