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Halawani gives upbeat appraisal of Jordan's performance

By JT - Nov 23,2014 - Last updated at Nov 23,2014

AMMAN — The national economy is on the right track, with plans and programmes under implementation by the government achieving positive results at several levels, Industry, Trade and Supply Minister Hatem Halawani said Sunday.

At a meeting with members of the Amman Chamber of Commerce (ACC) board of directors, Halawani underlined the importance of the achievements in light of huge challenges the Kingdom is facing due to surrounding regional circumstances and the continuous increase of the energy bill, which consequently raised the debt burden.

Referring to economic indicators released by the Central Bank of Jordan, he cited credit economic reforms that helped to achieve a 3 per cent growth rate during the first half of 2014, and raise national exports by 7 per cent during the first eight months of the year.  

The minister indicated a ministry statement, e-mailed to The Jordan Times, that the Kingdom’s foreign currency reserves achieved unprecedented levels reaching $14.3 billion until the end of the third quarter of 2014, registering a 19.3 per cent increase, compared to the same period in 2013.

Inflation rate dropped to 3.1 per cent during the first nine months of the year, compared with 6.1 per cent in the same period of 2013, in addition to the decline in unemployment rate to 11.4 per cent, Halawani said.

He added that the energy bill still places a huge burden on the Jordanian economy, noting that the government support to the electricity bill stands at JD1.4 billion annually.

The losses of the National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) has exceeded JD5 billion so far, Halawani indicated, noting that the electricity charges for the majority of citizens were not affected since their monthly consumption does not go beyond JD50, a consumption rate that benefits from government support. 

The minister stressed the government’s keenness  on real and effective partnership with the private sector, in a way that positively affects the national economy and contributes to solving all problems faced by various economic sectors.

He also added that the 10-year economic plan, which the government is currently working on under Royal directives, partly focuses on enhancing the competitiveness of the commercial and industrial sectors and intensifying investments based on real partnership.

ACC President Issa Murad and other ACC members spoke about some problems facing the commercial sector, such as the recent strike of workers at the Aqaba Container Terminal  and the high cost of handling.

Murad requested a follow up to cancel the 1 per cent customs services fees on some exempted imports, and to resolve some exceptions on imports from some countries stressing the importance of cooperation to speed up the work on the specifications law. 

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