No new taxes and fees in the 2023 budget — Ississ

Minister says IMF fourth review praised Kingdom’s monetary and fiscal policies

1. Ississ
An undated photo of Minister of Finance Mohamad Al-Ississ. (File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — Minister of Finance Mohamad Al-Ississ affirmed the government’s commitment not to raise the tax burden on citizens, indicating that there will be no new taxes or fees in the 2023 budget.اضافة اعلان

In an extensive interview with Ad-Dustour daily, published on Sunday, Ississ defended the Kingdom’s fiscal policy, saying: “We were able to overcome multiple crises with a prudent fiscal policy that did not impose a penny in taxes on citizens,” noting that the effectiveness of the fiscal and monetary policies enabled Jordan to face the difficult challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian war.

He said that unemployment remains the biggest challenge Jordan faces, noting that the solution is to accelerate economic reforms aimed at attracting more investments that raise growth rates and create jobs.

“We have recently completed the fourth pillar of the tax reform system and thus we have legally closed sources of tax evasion and tax avoidance. Closing tax loopholes will help us cover the budget deficit,” Ississ said.

The minister said the Economic Modernization Vision 2033 is realistic and focuses on attracting investments, hence the link between various visions.

“The Public Sector Development plan limits bureaucracy that obstructs investments, and for this reason, the draft laws presented to Parliament,  which are the draft investment environment law, the draft competition law and the draft companies law, all fit with the Economic Modernization Vision,” Ississ added.

Concerning figures and indicators of the general state budget in the first half of this year, the minister said that revenues are as expected, pointing out that revenues in 2021 exceeded the projections by about JD100 million.

“As minister of finance, I am fully committed to everything stated in the 2022 budget, and the estimates will be identical to what we expected, if not better,” he added.

He said that a public investment management unit was recently formed in the Ministry of Planning, having the mission to receive all proposed capital projects, study their economic impact, and determine whether those projects are governmental, or will be carried out in partnership with the private sector, or if they are entirely private sector projects. He said that priorities are for projects that create job opportunities and those that support the development of governorates, employ youth and empower women.

Ississ said that support for the tourism sector remains a priority and the government has raised allocations to the tourism sector by JD50 million in the 2022 budget, and that the same figure is specified in the budgets for the next two years.

He added that a plan to develop the agricultural sector was recently approved by the Council of Ministers, and as a result, the allocations for the Ministry of Agriculture were raised in the 2022 and 2023 budgets.

Ississ said that for the first time money was allocated to industry through the “Industry Support Fund”, with the aim of shifting from providing protection to raising competitiveness.

He praised the monetary policy pursued by the Central Bank of Jordan, stressing that it provided monetary stability and contributed to financial stability, which was reflected recently by the Fitch agency’s rating of Jordan at “BB-” with a stable future outlook.

On the investment environment bill currently before the Lower House, the minister said that it expresses the government’s absolute belief in Jordan’s ability to be a strong competitor to attract domestic and foreign investments, adding that it works to remove bureaucratic obstacles and offers incentives and exemptions for investments that create jobs, while reassuring the investor through the stability of legislation.

Regarding relations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ississ said it is an advisory body that “works with us and not a party that imposes conditions on us”, and that the relationship is based on trust, mutual respect and open communication.

He added that Jordan continues to carry out economic reforms aimed at restoring the momentum of growth, leading to job creation, while staying away from increasing the tax burden on citizens and, instead, adopting measures to combat tax evasion.

“The fourth review conducted by the IMF was one of the most important; the fund praised the fiscal and monetary policies, which helped maintain our macroeconomic stability,” he said.

“This is what opened the doors for us to successfully complete the process of issuing eurobond bonds in the global market at a value of $650 million at a fixed coupon price of 7.75 percent, maturing after five and a half years, at the beginning of 2028,” he added.

Ississ said that although the issuance targeted a subscription volume of $500 million, the offers submitted by investors amounted to more than three times the volume, with a total value of about $1.8 billion.

“We have received offers from the largest institutional investors in the world, and this is an indication of the confidence of the most important investment houses in the stability of the future Jordanian economy,” he said.

There will be a fifth review of the Jordanian economy by the IMF this fall, he said.

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