Ammon News, Business

Economic team meets over stimulus, investment policy

[12/8/2018 3:27:49 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Prime Minister Omar Razzaz Saturday chaired a meeting of the government economic team to discuss investment policies and measures to spur growth. The ministerial task force looked into ways to enhance the competitiveness of the national economy and increase national exports, as well as plans needed to attract foreign investment that would help create jobs and curtail unemployment, partiularly in the governorates and remote areas. President of the Economic and Social Council Mustafa Hamarneh briefed the ministers on a study to assess the economic and social impact of government decisions in 2017 and 2018 that are related to taxes on commodities and services, as well as a presentation on the macroeconomic model.

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€30.6 million EU grant to build 10 schools

[12/5/2018 9:17:07 AM]

AMMONNEWS - The government and the German Bank for Reconstruction ( KfW) signed an agreement on Wednesday to implement an additional grant of €30.6 million provided from the European Union (EU) to build new schools across the Kingdom. Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Mary Kawar, and the bank's director in Jordan, Christian Chaub, signed the agreement. During the signing ceremony, the minister said the agreement aims to build 10 new government schools, and equip their labs with the EU's support through the EU's credit fund to respond to the repercussions of the Syrian crisis. Kawar stressed the importance of the project in reducing pressure on public schools, which receive large numbers beyond their capacity as a result of enrolling thousands of Syrian students in government schools across the Kingdom. The minister noted the agreement comes within the framework of efforts to follow up the implementation of financial commitments announced by the donor community during the conference held in London recently, expressing the Jordanian government's gratitude to the EU for the continued support to the Kingdom and for the KfW for its partnership with Jordan in this key project. She said relations with the EU are based on a solid foundation of shared values, mutual respect and cooperation, and the continuous efforts of the two sides to strengthen their partnership in various fields of common concern, especially in view of the EU's understanding of the challenges facing Jordan, especially during this difficult period it is facing due to repercussions of regional crises , including the hosting of Syrian refugees. For his part, Minister of Public Works and Housing Falah Al Amoush thanked the European Union for this grant, which came to support the building of schools, increase their efficiency and improve the quality of education, especially at schools affected by the Syrian refugee crisis. The German Bank for Reconstruction will implement the grant with the government through the project agreement prepared for this purpose. In the event of completion, these schools will contribute to the high quality of access to primary and secondary education for children in Jordan, including refugee children and their host communities, and increase the executive and administrative capacities of the ministries of education, public works and housing

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U.S., Jordan sign 745-million-dollar direct cash transfer agreement to treasury

[12/4/2018 3:31:24 PM]

AMMONNEWS - In the Presence of Prime Minister Omar Razzaz, a USD 745.1 million Cash Transfer Agreement to Jordan’s treasury was signed today as part of the 2018 U.S. economic assistance program to Jordan. This year’s U.S. direct cash grant is a record high (it stood at USD 475 million last year). The grant agreement was signed by Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Mary Kawar and Charge d'Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Amman Jim Barnhart. The grant will be used to support priority development projects listed in the General Budget Law 2018, which will contribute to reducing the budget deficit. The value of this grant is expected to be transferred to the treasury account before the end of the year. The remaining USD 335 million of economic assistance will be used to support economic development, improve the quality of the social sector, and enhance democratic accountability. This brings the total non-military U.S. economic assistance to Jordan in 2018 to around USD 1.08 billion allocated by the U.S. Congress to the Kingdom within the U.S. budget for the fiscal year 2018. The total figure signals an increase of about USD 330 million from the indicative value of economic assistance referred to in the memorandum of understanding governing the U.S. assistance to the Kingdom for the 2018-2022 period, signed between the two sides in February. The Minister expressed appreciation on behalf of the people of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the government and people of the U.S. for their continued and increasing support to the Kingdom, effectively contributing to the fulfillment of Jordan’s national development goals. She said this support and the agreement reflect the advanced relations between the two sides and the strategic partnership governing this relation. Razzaz said the support also reflects the efforts exerted by His Majesty King Abdullah bin Al Hussein to reinforce cooperation with the U.S. Kawar said this support has had a clear impact on Jordan’s development march across different sectors. She reiterated Jordan’s keenness to tap more cooperation with the U.S. on different levels and in different domains, citing the significant impact it will have on the implementation of national reform and development plans and programs. Charge d'Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Amman Jim Barnhart said the U.S. and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan maintain a long-standing partnership to support economic stability, strengthen democratic governance, and improve essential service delivery to meet the needs of the people of Jordan. Together, the U.S. and Jordan provided more than two million people access to fresh water and sanitation services and facilitated more than USD 2 billion in domestic and foreign investment in Jordan's renewable energy sector. Bilateral trade has increased by 800 percent following Jordan’s accession to the World Trade Organization and the implementation of the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement. Maternal mortality has fallen more than 50 percent since 1997, and more than one million children have access to improved learning environments in public schools through upgraded infrastructure and better teaching. The U.S. economic assistance program to Jordan is the largest in the world. The U.S. government, through USAID, has provided foreign assistance from the American people to Jordan for more than 60 years.

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Finance minister delivers draft budget law speech to Parliament

[12/4/2018 3:25:53 PM]

AMMONNEWS - The minister said despite 6.3 percent higher revenues in 2018, they fall below expectations due to various factors, notably a modest economic growth. Also, there was an increase of 6.5 percent in expenditures from the previous year as a result of running expenses recorded at 8 percent, and a 3.8 decline in capital expenditures from the 2017 level. As a result, deficit is likely to amount to 2.7 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), compared with 2.6 in 2017, resulting in JD28.4 billion in gross public debt, or about 94.5 of GDP. During the Jan-Sept period, national exports climbed 3 percent and imports declined 0.3 percent, while the current account deficit of balance of payments was down by 10.4 percent of GDP. Kanakrieh, further, said that the 2019 general budget and the budgets of independent government units took into account the following points: - Implement priorities of the national comprehensive revival project, through which the government aims to utilize Jordanians capacities. - Activate capital development projects through budgetary allocations in the general budget and the budgets of the government units, and amend the partnership legislation between the public and private sectors. - Expand the social security network to include a larger number of eligible families to achieve social equality. - Enhance the decentralization approach and address challenges encouraging governorates' councils to enable local communities to identify their needs and priorities. - Improve the efficiency of tax collection and address tax evasion. - Promote investment opportunities nationwide through improving the operational levels, alleviate poverty and enhance citizens' standard of living. - Commit to financial and economic reforms taking into account social dimensions and their impact on citizens. - Follow-up on the implementation of the e-transform project at state agencies. - Carry out new programs targeting increased tourism revenues and contributions to GDP. - Sustain the implementation of national strategies to develop human resources, including vocational education, support innovation and establish technical incubators. - Review the national energy strategy to continue diversifying energy resources and promoting reliance on domestic resources in the total energy mix to ensure a safe and sustained energy supply. - Enhance the public transport sector and secure an appropriate atmosphere that meets environmental conservation standards. - Minimize the loss in the water sector to achieve water security. - Pay greater attention to domestic industry by encouraging them to use natural gas to reduce factories operational costs. - pursue the restructuring of ministries and public departments to upgrade their capacities, performance and efficiency and rationalize their expenditures. - Promote reliance on national resources to cover public spending. - Implement gulf-funded ventures. - Incorporate the necessary allocation for the annual pay raise of public servants and retired servicemen, as well as the allocations for the armed forces and security agencies.

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Finance minister delivers draft budget law speech to Parliament

[12/4/2018 6:34:05 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Minister of Finance Izzeddin Kanakrieh Tuesday delivered a speech on the 2019 general budget and the budgets of the government units at the Lower House to Parliament. "Despite being in a chaotic region, Jordan's economy is sound and fit to grow and was capable to develop a tolerance to surrounding repercussions", the minister told the session and referred to Standard & Poor's credit rating for Jordan which affirmed it at (B+) with a "stable" outlook due to a number of domestic and regional factors. In the speech, the minister cited various domestic and foreign conditions and developments and their social ramifications that prompted the government to draw up an action program for the next two years within the framework of national rejuvenation project. Consequently, the government set priorities that have direct impact on citizens welfare before implementing them with the available funding. The national economy has suffered from a slowdown in growth and had also been vulnerable to developments witnessed recently in the Middle East, as preliminary data showed that the real economic growth will stand at 2 percent, creeping towards 2.3 percent in 2019. However the government purposeful endeavors to stimulate economic growth pursue to realize higher growth rates which requires a speed up to the rhythm of structural reforms, take into account setting priorities with utmost care and create employment opportunities. One of the main impediments constraining financial and economic policies is the high public debt levels. Accordingly, reducing the ratio of total debt to gross national income was among the leading objectives that would effectively contribute to enhancing Jordan's creditworthiness status and investment potential on world stage, the minister stated. Improvement and enhancement, Kanakrieh went on, go beyond figures and data to reviewing legislations, policies and methodologies and the capacity to shape them "in a manner" where they could handle today's changing world.

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Jordan’s Unemployment Rate Rises to 18.6%

[12/3/2018 6:23:03 AM]

AMMONNEWS - The unemployment rate in Jordan for the third quarter of this year has reached 18.6 percent, with an increase of 0.1 percent compared to the same period of 2017, according to a report issued by the Jordanian Statistics Department. The report released on Sunday noted that the unemployment rate among men was 16.3 percent, compared to 27.1 percent among women during the period of the study. This indicates that unemployment among men increased by 0.9 percentage points, while it decline among women by 2.8 percentage points, compared to the third quarter of 2017. The report also said that unemployment was high among holders of bachelor’s or higher degrees in comparison with other educational levels. The results indicated that 58.2 percent of unemployed people hold a secondary education certificate or a higher degree. Among males, who hold an undergraduate degree or higher, the rate of unemployment reached 28.1 percent, while among females it stood at 80.1 percent. The age group which recorded the highest rate of unemployment was 15-19 years, with a rate of 46.9 percent, followed by 20-24 years, for which the rate stood at 37.7 percent, according to the Jordanian Statistics Department. At the geographic level, Madaba topped Jordan’s governorates in unemployment with a rate of 24.9 percent, while Karak recorded the lowest rate of 13.3 percent.

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Jordan, Libya discuss closer ties

[12/2/2018 2:17:45 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Prime Minister Omar Razzaz on Sunday held talks with Chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya Fayez Sarraj focusing on ways of cementing cooperation between the Kingdom and Libya. Both Razzaz and Sarraj said economic cooperation between the two countries is still below aspirations given the potential both nations have. "Political and economic relations and the security cooperation are good between the two countries and there is coordination between them on various regional and international issues, but we look forward to expanding areas of cooperation and realizing the ambitions and hopes of the Jordanian and Libyan peoples," Razzaz said. Al-Sarraj stressed the importance of an optimal investment of the human and natural resources both countries have and the need to activate bilateral agreements. Talks during the meeting dealt with a number of outstanding issues between the two countries, including debts the Libyan side owes to a number of Jordanian hospitals. The Prime Minister stressed the importance of resolving this issue, saying such funds belong to hospitals, citizens and private sector entities. Sarraj indicated that his country had taken a series of measures to settle this debt and "open a new page to benefit from mistakes of the past and rearrange the relationship in a good way to ensure that there are no infringements". Regarding a Libyan investment portfolio deposited in Jordan, the Prime Minister assured the Libyan official that the funds are safe and there should be clear coordination on how they will be used in the future. Sarraj said Libya is eager to activate this portfolio through launching investments in Jordan and said officials from both countries will discuss this issue. The two sides also discussed prospects of security cooperation and coordination between the two countries. In this context, the Chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya underlined his country's interest in benefiting from the extensive experience Jordan has in the security domain, pointing out that the Libyan interior minister will visit Jordan later to discuss promoting ties in this field.

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