Jordan PM hopeful for growth path

PBA DESK : Jordan’s prime minister has voiced
hope that his country will turn to a growth path, after he briefed the
International Monetary Fund on fiscal reforms that have sparked protests at
home.

Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz, a Harvard-educated economist who took
office last year, said he spoke to IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde on
next steps.

“Now that our fiscal health is in order, we want to promote growth,”
Razzaz told reporters in Washington late Thursday after his meeting.

He said he also met in Washington with the US Chamber of Commerce to draw
greater business interest and was organizing a Jordan investment conference
to take place in London in late February.

Tax reforms were approved by lawmakers in November but Lagarde said that
Jordan “still faces challenging economic and social conditions.”

“The Prime Minister informed me about the extensive national dialogue that
led to the adoption of a new income tax law, which is a welcome step in the
right direction,” she said.

“Sustaining fiscal consolidation remains critical to preserve
macroeconomic stability, which needs to be supported by a faster
implementation of reforms to promote jobs and investment and lower business
costs,” she said in a statement.

Jordan, whose stability is seen as vital for the volatile Middle East, has
virtually no natural resources and plays host to 1.3 million refugees from
neighboring Syria.

Alongside the IMF package, Jordan received pledges of $2.5 billion in aid
from oil-rich Gulf Arab states in June.

Jordan has witnessed persistent protests against austerity measures led by
young people, among whom unemployment runs at 39 percent.

The government went ahead with the income tax bill but, in a concession,
raised the threshold at which Jordanian households have to pay.

PBA/zizi

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