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Anger over tax hikes spreads to UJ campus

By Sawsan Tabazah - Feb 08,2018 - Last updated at Feb 08,2018

University of Jordan students protest recent price and tax hikes on campus on Thursday (Photo by Sawsan Tabazah)

AMMAN — Dozens of University of Jordan (UJ) students on Thursday staged a sit-in on the campus to protest the price and tax hikes, accusing the government of “starving the people  and increasing poverty rates”. 

The budget bill that was endorsed on the eve of the new year includes corrective measures that aim at generating JD540 million from lifting the bread subsidy and levying JD500-1,500 on each imported car, and raising the special tax on carbonated drinks by 10-20 per cent, and Octane 95 and 98 gasoline by 30 per cent.

 It also included an addition of JD0.20 to cigarette packets and the modification of all sales tax exemptions (zero and 4 per cent) at a unified rate of 10 per cent.

Samir Mashhour, a fifth-year industrial engineering student said that the sit-in organised by various students blocs denounced tax hikes by successive governments that claim to solve the Kingdom’s debt issue. 

“We are not protesting for a student or a person, but for all Jordanians who are facing injustice by a [governmental] approach that exposes people to starvation and humiliation,” Ahmad Nafea, a master’s student said while addressing the protesters. 

 The slogans “Bread…Freedom… Social Justice” and “No to price hikes” resonated across the campus. 

Jilan Abu Al Rub, a political science major, criticised parliament’s endorsement of the budget bill in a five-hour session, “where the decisions were made without consulting the public. The citizens have the right to know”.

 “Jordanian citizens’ rights have become dreams such as the right to free education. The price hikes, especially the bread, are threatening the existence of the middle-income class,” Abu Al Rub added.

The students said that the public transport fares which increased by 10 per cent as of Wednesday, affected them directly and increased their financial burdens.  

Maria Salameh, a student at the Languages Faculty who works part-time to pay her university tuition fees and to help her family, said that affording public transportation and buying cell phone credit has become harder than ever. 

“Enough price hikes, people are suffering,” Salameh told The Jordan Times. 

Doaa Mohammad also said that the increase of fuel prices and transportation fares is affecting students and their families who struggle to send their children to universities. 

Hanin Taha, another student, said that the situation is already bad and has worsened with the recent tax and price hikes, forcing many students who cannot pay these tuition fees to delay semesters.

Yara Nassr Allah, another student said that the students protest echoes the voices of the Jordanian street.

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