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House financial committee supports gov’t’s cash subsidy move

By JT - Dec 22,2017 - Last updated at Dec 22,2017

AMMAN — Lower House Speaker Atef Tarawneh on Thursday headed a meeting of the house's finance committee with Prime Minister Hani Mulki, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

During the meeting, Tarawneh noted that the committee has prepared its report on the 2018 general budget and that of the independent institutions after discussing them with all relevant bodies.

He said that the committee's report will be submitted to the Lower House on Tuesday, which, for its part, will set a programme for the budget discussions and MPs notes.

MP Ahmad Safadi, the committee's head, said that during the meeting, the committee discussed with Mulki subsidies for bread and other essential commodities, noting that the committee supports a plan to provide cash support to those "who deserve" as an alternative to subsidies.

The support must include all armed forces, security agencies’ in- service and retired members as well as civil employees, Safadi added.

He noted that the committee is scheduled to conclude its meetings and discussions of the budget by Sunday by meeting with a governorate council.

For his part, the prime minister pointed out the "very critical" period that Jordan is passing through, calling on "all" to support the government's financial and economic reform programmes.

 

Mulki said that the 16-per cent sales tax law that was endorsed by the Parliament in 1994 has become ineffective as a result of the “not thoughtful” exemptions of commodities and sectors, which reduced the tax revenues in GDP.

For bread, the premier said that one-third of the population unrightfully benefit from the subsidies.

The bread subsidy reaches JD140 million annually and is spent in hard currency taken from the Central Bank of Jordan’s reserves.

He said that the government has allocated JD171 million in the budget to support the low-income citizens and will follow a mechanism to be decided by the House for the distribution.

The prime minister announced that the government has also allocated JD10 million to support the military and civil consumer corporations to help them stabilise prices, JD10 million to include more families in the National Aid Fund and JD5 million for food rations at schools in underprivileged regions.

As for including above-60-year-old people in the free health insurance, the prime minister said that the finance minister was tasked to provide a study on the expected cost.

He pointed out that the government had included under the health subsidised care umbrella people above 80 then those above 70.

 

During the meeting, the committee also discussed the defence budget with the prime minister, who is also the defence minister.

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