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Lower House passes sukuk, awqaf laws, rejects Appropriations Law amendments

By Khaled Neimat - Sep 09,2012 - Last updated at Sep 09,2012

AMMAN — After concluding deliberations over three laws on Sunday, MPs will start reviewing the amendments to the controversial Landlords and Tenants Law on Wednesday, and most likely also review the amended Passports Law approved last week.

During Sunday’s session, the Lower House endorsed the draft Islamic sukuk law, which deputies said would allow for more cash to flow into the country by allowing sukuk (the Islamic equivalent of bonds) to be issued in the capital market to finance projects and investments.

The Lower House also passed the amended Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Law and accepted the recommendation of the Legal Committee to scrap the government’s amendments to the Appropriations Law that would reduce the hundreds of millions of dinars in payments the state makes to citizens when acquiring properties for public use.

“This is a genuine constitutional right for citizens, and anyone could easily obtain a ruling from the recently established Constitutional Court over such a law, which goes against the Constitution,” Balqa MP Mahmoud Kharabsheh, head of the Legal Committee, said.

Most deputies agreed with Kharabsheh, saying that citizens have a constitutional right to receive fair compensation when the public sector wants to acquire their property.

Also on Sunday, the Senate rejected the amendments made by the Lower House to the Passports Law, insisting that former officials and lawmakers are not entitled to a diplomatic passport, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

When they first discussed the law during their ordinary session in March, deputies voted to grant these passports to all serving and former lawmakers and ministers, but the decision faced public outcry and a rejection by senators.

When they revisited the law in late August, MPs limited the privilege to serving lawmakers and ministers, among other senior officials. However, they agreed that former premiers, Lower House and Senate speakers, and chiefs of the Higher Judicial Council have the right to the so-called “red passport”.

In their Sunday session, the senators ruled that diplomatic passports are meant only to facilitate the travel of serving officials and thus there is no need to issue the document to any former lawmaker or official, including heads of the three branches of government. 

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