We have reached unprecedented unemployment rates — Minister of Planning

(Illustrations: Shutterstock and Jordan News Graphics)
AMMAN — Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Nasser Shraideh said on Wednesday that “Jordan has reached an unprecedented unemployment rate and an increase in poverty rates as well.” He said that the unemployment rate among youth is 48 percent while it is more than 30 percent among females. Official figures put the general rate of unemployment at 23 percent.اضافة اعلان

On Tuesday Shraideh was quoted as saying that the number of unemployed in Jordan stands at 400,000 and that it would rise to half a million by end of the year.  The World Bank last week issued a report that said that if it was not for direct cash subsidies the poverty rate in Jordan would have jumped from 15.7 percent to 20 percent. Last year 240,000 families benefitted from direct cash payments; 10 percent of which were headed by women.

During a meeting with the Finance committee of the Lower House to discuss the draft general budget and the draft budget of government independent units for 2022, he added that the COVID-19 pandemic had become a great challenge, affecting different aspects of life and different economic sectors.

“We are all aware that 2020 and 2021 were exceptional years, where the downturn in the growth of the national economy last year was 1.6 percent,” Shraideh said. 

Government expenditure in the 2022 general budget was estimated at JD9.117 billion, compared with JD8.790 billion in 2021; an increase of JD327 million or 3.7 percent, Finance Minister Mohammad Al-Ississ had told lawmakers on Monday. 

“We are aware that today we have reached unprecedented unemployment rates, poverty rates have increased, most of our economic sectors have been affected including tourism and transport sectors and a number of associated service sectors have been also affected,” Shraideh said. “The government has worked intensively to deal with the epidemic in a distinctive way; its capacity in the health sector has increased more than three-fold in terms of dealing with the number of cases,” he added. 

Speaking about COVID-19 vaccinations, Shraideh said:  “We adopted a world-renowned program, which was made available to all those living in the Kingdom. We did not discriminate between Jordanian and resident, just as we did with all refugees and today we have reached a good level of vaccination.” 

With regard to economic growth, Shraideh said that after the damages caused by the pandemic, we cannot overlook the challenges that existed before the pandemic. “Over the past decade, we have not been able to achieve growth rates of more than 2.5 percent, compared with growth rates in the years from 2000 till 2010 of more than 6.5 percent,” he said. “This decline in growth rates and dip in economic activity was due to external regional factors that have greatly affected our domestic economy,” he added.

The minister said that borders with neighboring countries have been closed due to regional instability and that affected the movement of trade and investments.

The Lower House had referred the draft law of the general budget and the government independent units’ budget for the fiscal year of 2022 to the Finance Committee during its session last Monday.

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