Lawmakers decry fuel price hike

Treasury does not have the luxury of subsidizing fuel products — Khasawneh

Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh. (File Photo: Ameer Khalifeh/JNews)
(File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — The controversial energy dossier and the government’s move to raise the price of fuel derivative for the fourth month running took center stage Monday at the Lower House’s first business session since Parliament convened in an ordinary session earlier this month, according to local media outlets. اضافة اعلان

Deputies were supposed to debate draft laws referred to them by the government.

Speaker Ahmed Al-Safadi’s tried to defer discussion of the fuel prices file, saying that it will be referred to the Lower House Energy Committee, but lawmakers dedicated all their interventions to this issue, waging harsh attacks against the government, which was represented by Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh.

Lawmakers asked that the public’s high cost of living, which has increased because of the recent increase in fuel prices, be taken into consideration.

Deputies expressed disapproval of the fact that they are not consulted on decisions that directly affect the lives of citizens.

Khasawneh retorted by saying that the state Treasury does not have the luxury of subsidizing fuel derivatives. The government subsidized fuel by JD550 million last year; it cannot do that again because it does not have the funds, and if it were forced to subsidize fuel, the budget deficit would increase by an additional JD550 million, he said.

Khasawneh denied allegations that his government topped the list of borrowers in the history of the Kingdom, pointing to the fact that the difference between revenue generated from taxes and public spending, which covers public sector wages, or 70 percent of the budget, is JD2 billion, which had forced governments to resort to borrowing to cover this basic spending for years.

Lawmaker Firas Al-Sawair said that the government must no longer prioritize Cabinet reshuffles and must refrain from taking controversial decisions — such as firing the head of the Audit Bureau — without explaining such decisions to Parliament.

Sawair said that the JD2 billion the government borrows annually “is all at the expense of our children”.

“The government charges a fixed tax on oil derivatives and collects JD1.2 billion annually,” Sawair said adding that “this tax has broken the back of the Jordanian citizen.”

At one point, Deputy Atta Ibdah called for a vote of no confidence in the government because of repeated hikes in fuel prices. He asked the government to retract its decision to raise fuel prices.

The row over energy prices comes few days before the Lower House begins debating the 2023 general budget draft law.

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