Ammon News, Business

Jordan, IMF conclude discussions on Extended Fund Facility

[10/28/2020 4:12:58 PM]

AMMONNEWS - The Ministry of Finance Wednesday said it had concluded its discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the first review of the $1.3 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF) which the Kingdom obtained earlier this year. The ministry indicated that it had reached an agreement at the level of experts with the IMF to conclude the first review, noting that the transfer of the second installment of the EFF is now subject to the approval of the IMF’s Executive Board. The first review is a positive indication of the government's success in maintaining financial and monetary stability and proceeding with the implementation of structural economic reforms included in the program, the ministry added in a statement. "Jordan's passing of the first review in light of the challenges we are going through now is a commendation of the health and economic measures taken by the Kingdom since the beginning of the pandemic, and evidence of our development partners' confidence in the ability of the Jordanian economy to recover", Minister of Finance Muhammad Al-Ississ said. The minister stressed that the fight against customs and tax evasion and avoidance is continuing, saying the government will "completely shy away from imposing new taxes". He explained that the only way out of the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic is to prepare the economy for growth and create jobs, which has become the primary challenge in light of high unemployment rates. The first review of the EFF included issues related to the re-prioritization of structural reforms as required in the current stage. Other areas of the review included combating tax and customs avoidance, reducing business-doing costs, including labor and energy, and enhancing government transparency with regard to illicit gain and government spending efficiency. This is in addition to progress made toward strengthening social protection networks to help groups most affected by the pandemic. The IMF has also revised its estimates regarding public finances after taking into account developments since the beginning of the crisis and the fiscal and monetary policies adopted by the government to contain the disease and reduce its health and economic impacts. Accordingly, the Fund lowered its Jordan's economic growth forecast for the current year from -5 percent to -3 percent, while estimating nominal growth in 2021 at 3.8 percent. It is noteworthy that the EFF was the first program to be approved by the IMF in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, which helped the Kingdom access global debt markets to obtain financing at competitive prices and strengthened investor and donor confidence in the resilience of the national economy.

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Jordan's oil bill down by half in first 8 months

[10/26/2020 3:18:19 PM]

AMMONNEWS - The Kingdom's oil bill in the first eight months of the year dropped by a staggering 50.1 per cent, compared with the same period of 2019, the Department of Statistics (DoS) said on Monday. The value of the oil bill in the first eight months of 2020 dropped to JD836.5 million, compared with JD1.677 billion in the same period of 2019, according to the monthly report. Crude oil topped the list of Jordan's oil imports, amounting to JD307 million followed by diesel with JD183 million, lubricant oils with JD12 million, and gasoline with JD139 million. The Kingdom's total imports for the January-August period of 2020 dipped by 15.3 per cent to JD7.707, compared to the same period of last year.

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Ministry urges telecom companies to end prepaid plans cut-off

[10/25/2020 8:13:34 AM]

AMMONNEWS - The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Supply has called on telecom companies to reverse a recent decision disconnecting prepaid phone plans the day following the expiration of the subscription, and not to take any decisions that "violate market mechanisms and free competition". In a statement Sunday, Minister Maha Ali said the ministry had officially addressed local mobile operators to "stop this practice which risks liability". The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission forwarded to the ministry complaints against the three mobile operators regarding the cut-off of prepaid plans on the day after the subscription expires, the minister noted. Ali indicated that a study into the issue by the ministry's department of competition found out that the three telecom firms applied new conditions on the disconnection of prepaid lines, something, she said, breached competition and limited options before subscribers. Previously, telecom companies granted pre-paid mobile subscribers a month to receive calls after the subscription ends. However, the three companies have recently pursued a new policy prepaid plans cutting them off just a day after the subscription expires. The Competition Law No. (33) of 2004 and amendments thereto prohibit, subject to liability, any practices that violate, limit or prevent competition, especially those whose subject or purpose is to fix the prices of goods or service fees or the conditions of sale and the like.

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Tax committee receives 2,349 settlement applications

[10/15/2020 8:47:03 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Individual and corporate taxpayers lodged 2,349 applications with an Income and Sales Tax Department (ISTD) committee in the first nine months of the current year seeking settlements with the department over their tax balances. Of the total, 1,650 applications were related to the income tax while the remainder (699) were sales tax settlement applications, according to figures issued by the ISDT. The Tax Settlement Committee has so far looked into 1,747 applications, including 1,276 for income tax and 471 for the general tax on sales. The ISTD noted that the cabinet had approved 1,256 of the total, including 957 income tax applications and 299 sales tax settlements. The committee is headed by a judge and includes members from the ISTD and the private sector. It is mandated with receiving and studying the settlement requests and forwarding its recommendations to the cabinet for final approval. The ISTD indicated that the committee does not look into cases which received final court verdicts and facilitates the enforcement of any ruling without prejudice to the rights of any of the parties.

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IMF to revise Jordan's growth forecast for October

[10/13/2020 10:26:49 AM]

AMMONNEWS - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission chief for Jordan Ali Abbas said Tuesday that the fund will take into account new data Jordan issued while revising the October 2020 IMF World Economic Outlook. In a statement to the Jordan News Agency (Petra) on Tuesday, Abbas said: "The macroeconomic forecast for Jordan published in the October 2020 IMF World Economic Outlook (including -5% real GDP growth for 2020) is being revised in the context of the ongoing virtual staff mission for the 1st review of the Extended Fund Facility." "In revising its forecast, the IMF team will take into account new information, including recently published data from Jordan’s Department of Statistics that point to better-than-expected GDP growth in the second quarter of 2020," he added.

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Jordan's pharmaceuticals, medical supplies set foothold in 90 markets

[10/10/2020 11:25:04 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Jordan's pharmaceutical and medical supplies industries have gained footing in more than 90 countries across the globe, accounting for 9 percent of the Kingdom's exports in 2019, according to the Jordan Chamber of Industry (JCI). The value of the annual output of the pharmaceutical and medical supplies industries is estimated at JD1.5 billion or 8 percent of the gross output of the whole industrial sector, JCI President Fathi Jaghbeer told Petra. The sector adds 2 percent to the country's gross domestic product, Jaghbeer said, noting that there are 180 pharma and medical supplies factories in the Kingdom, in addition to 15 based outside of the country. In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, local manufacturers produce 5 million face masks daily, in addition to large volumes of protective personal equipment (PPE), Jaghbeer indicated, revealing local engineers have developed artificial respirators and designed three expandable mobile hospitals. Highlighting the sector's role in providing sustainable employment, he pointed out that an overwhelming 96 percent of the +10,000 workers in the pharmaceutical and medical supplies industry are Jordanians; 26 percent of whom are females. The value of pharma and medical exports hit JD436 million or 9 percent of gross exports in 2019, according to Jaghbeer, who revealed that the country's annual production of disinfectants, antiseptics and sanitizers stands at 200K, 150K and 25K tons respectively. Jaghbeer cited protectionist policies, high taxation and lengthy regulatory registration procedures by some countries as challenges to the development of the local pharma and medical supplies sector. He called for the introduction of policies aimed at replacing foreign drugs with Jordanian medicine and "to be careful in the registration of generic medicines". Jaghbeer also demanded reciprocity with countries "that hinder" the export of Jordanian medicine and to raise the market share of locally-made supplies.

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4,800 establishments closed, 2,300 citizens fined for breaking Defense Order 11-Industry ministry

[10/7/2020 2:53:50 PM]

AMMONNEWS - The joint inspection teams on establishments in the Kingdom's various regions are intensifying their field tours to ensure compliance with public safety measures, and Defense Order 11, to enhance the efforts made to address the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the daily monitoring report prepared by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Supply in coordination with the relevant ministries and government agencies, the joint monitoring teams have shut down about 4,800 establishments and released about 14,000 violations since the start of the curfew measures last March until Tuesday for failing to adhere to the provisions of legislation, Defense Order 11 and public safety requirements and health protection measures. The number of establishments visited in the Kingdom's various regions exceeded 200,000, showed the report. In a related context, the number of citizens who were fined for flouting the defense order reached 11,300 in various governorates, revealed the report. Stressing importance of public compliance to wearing face masks, and public safety measures, the ministry said the monitoring operations carried out by all relevant ministries and government agencies include following up on adhering to social distancing rules and providing public safety requirements. Monitoring operations are undertaken by specialized committees from a number of relevant ministries and government agencies such as the ministries of industry, labor, health, environment, tourism, local administration, the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM), the Jordan Food and Drug Administration (JFDA), and the Public Security Directorate (PSD), in coordination with the Ministry of Interior.

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