Lower House passes 2013 State Budget Law amid parliamentary chaos | Jordan News | Ammon News

Lower House passes 2013 State Budget Law amid parliamentary chaos

[6/18/2013 5:28:34 PM]

AMMONNEWS - The Lower House of Parliament on Tuesday passed the 2013 temporary State Budget Law following a 2-day marathon of deliberations and a chaotic session on Tuesday that witnessed mass withdrawals of MPs from the voting session.

68 out of 86 MPs present during the voting session voted in favor of the law, which projects the State's revenues at JD 6.146 billion, of which foreign grants represent JD 850 million, and JD 5.269 million in domestic revenues.

The temporary law sets public expenditures reach JD 7.455 billion, including around JD 6.210 billion in current expenditures, while capital expenditures are estimated at JD 1.245 billion of public expenditures.

The temporary law sets the budget deficit at some JD 1.310 billion, or around 5.4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

The House on Tuesday also voted in favor of the Law for Independent government institutions' budget for 2013, as well as the annex to the 2012 State Budget Law.

During the session, Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour defended his government's decision to lift electricity subsidies, stressing that the government takes "full responsibility" for any electricity tariff hike in light of the House majority's rejection and proposed advice on alternatives.

"The final decision is in the government's hands, and we will bear the consequences of any price hikes," Ensour told lawmakers.

Ensour noted that residential electricity bills will not witness an increase this year, while household electricity bills exceeding JD 50 per month will be subject to a 15 percent increase starting in 2014.

On the state budget law, Ensour noted that this year witnesses the first time in the kingdom's history that capital expenditures are raised in the budget, representing job-generating projects, and where current spending is cut.

With Jordan's internal and external debt amounting to over JD 17 billion, reaching 75 percent, the Prime Minister highlighted to lawmakers that the debt is "unacceptable and unsustainable," and vowed to take measures to reduce the figures and cut the budget deficit.

The Lower House on Tuesday witnessed intense debates that exceeded five hours of deliberations before the House voted in favor of the 2013 temporary state budget law.

Over 37 MPs withdrew from the parliamentary session during the voting process, which started out with 129 MPs out of a total of 150-member Lower House.

Several MPs, including head of the "Free Promise" parliamentary bloc Amjad Majali, attempted to convince other MPs of withdrawing from the session to impede the vote.

Several MPs who withdrew from the session accused the House Speakership of "rigging" the vote on the budget law.

47 MPs signed a memo blasting the vote as being "clearly rigged," justifying their withdrawal from the session to be in protest over the voting mechanism.

The MPs expressed stern rejection of the State Budget Law and the government's decision to raise electricity prices.

18/6/2013 - 05:59:20 PM

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