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‘Lower House to begin budget deliberations next week’

By Khaled Neimat - Jan 07,2014 - Last updated at Jan 07,2014

AMMAN — The Lower House is scheduled to start debating the draft 2014 state budget next week, after its Financial and Economic Committee completed deliberations and sent its recommendations to the MPs.

After holding 60 meetings with different government entities over the past few weeks, the House panel concluded its report on the bill, submitting 25 recommendations to the government for examination during the upcoming discussions under the Dome.

The committee recommended that the government draft a deficit law to cover the next five years, starting from 2015 to reach self-sufficiency by 2020.

The panel urged the government to speed up its efforts to collect Treasury funds — estimated at JD2 billion — and conclude all lawsuits against tax evaders and others who owe money to the state, expected to generate JD1 billion, calling on the authorities to aggressively combat tax evasion.

The government should also accelerate the implementation of alternative energy projects, according to the panel’s recommendations, which were made available to The Jordan Times.

The government submitted the draft budget to the Lower House in November 2013, with a 12.8 per cent expansion in spending and a deficit of around JD1.1 billion.

Public spending for 2014, according to main outlines of the draft budget law that was endorsed by the Cabinet, is estimated to reach JD8.096 billion, up by JD920 million over public expenditure re-estimated for 2013.

Public revenues before foreign assistance were estimated at JD5.831 billion, an 11.6 per cent increase compared with the JD5.226 billion estimated for 2013.

Overall public revenues, including foreign grants, are estimated to reach JD6.982 billion.

Budget planners project assistance from donor countries to increase by JD169 million or 17.3 per cent next year, from JD982 million re-estimated for 2013, to amount to JD1.151 billion.

As the re-estimated deficit for 2013 stands at JD968 million, it means that the projected financial gap in next year’s budget is expected to rise by nearly 15 per cent.

Analysts have criticised the government for what they described as the “unjustified expansion” in the state budget draft law for 2014, saying that the Finance Ministry should have prepared a tightened spending bill to reduce the deficit and control the growing public debt.

Also next week, the MPs will debate the draft law for the 2014 budget of independent government institutions.

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