Jordan to Begin Negotiations over New, ‘Dictates-Free’ IMF Program

[11/30/2019 4:53:25 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Jordan has begun negotiating a new three-year financing program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to spur growth stalling at around 2 percent in the last decade, Finance Minister Mohammad Al-Ississ said.

However, Al-Ississ noted that the country would not accept “dictates” from the IMF, adding the Kingdom’s authorities were more aware than anyone else of what was needed to spur the slow economy.

“Jordan won’t take any dictates in our economic file and will not allow anyone to interfere in our affairs,” Al-Ississ said, adding the country was committed to pursuing “deep structural reforms”.

The IMF said on Monday it had begun consultations with Jordan on a new program to replace an earlier three-year agreement, during which it focused on reducing a record $40 billion in public debt, equal to 94 percent of GDP.

The IMF said it would come to Amman to continue talks in late January on a new program after agreeing that the priority in the coming years would be to maintain economic stability, increase growth and create jobs.

IMF experts criticized Jordan for its slow fiscal consolidation, saying public debt remains too high and efforts to expand the tax base and increase revenues have failed to meet their targets. The IMF noted that Jordan has “limited fiscal space”.

Al-Ississ said Jordan’s 9.8 billion dinar ($14 billion) budget for 2020 that the cabinet approved on Wednesday forecast a 10% rise in revenue from higher income taxes and sales tax.

The budget, which was sent to parliament for approval, predicted a deficit equal to 2.3% of Jordan’s GDP. The projected budget estimates include foreign aid of about 800 million dinars (about $1.13 billion), slightly different from the 2019 budget. Direct financial support from major donors usually covers chronic budget shortfalls.

*Asharq Al-Awsat

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