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Lower House starts debate of government policy statement

Deliberations to continue throughout week before vote

By JT - Jul 16,2018 - Last updated at Jul 16,2018

Cabinet members and lawmakers chat as the House meets to deliberate the government’s request of confidence based on its policy statement on Sunday (Photo by Hassan Tamimi)

AMMAN — The Lower House on Sunday kicked off its deliberations over the government’s policy statement, which was presented by the government last Monday, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Nine MPs took the podium in the session that was chaired by Speaker Atef Tarawneh and attended by Prime Minister Omar Razaz, with the majority of the speakers criticising the government over the Cabinet line-up.

The discussions are expected to continue throughout the week, and then the 130-strong Lower House will vote after listening to the government's response to the MPs' remarks.

Razzaz needs 50+1 per cent support to win confidence, or 66 MPs voting yea. 

MP Abdul Karim Doghmi announced he is withholding confidence in the government, voicing his dissatisfaction with the selection of Cabinet members and the exclusion of deputies from the government, stressing the importance of translating the concept of "parliamentary government" into facts on the ground.

He urged deputies to stand united and push for a parliamentary government system, which he described as a constant in the Constitution. 

He then moved to the issue of Al Baqoura, the land Jordan regained after its 1994 peace treaty with Israel and then leased to the Israelis for 25 years. Doghmi asked if there was a decision to notify Israel of terminating the contract before next September, as stipulated in the lease deal.

The veteran MP and former speaker and minister also asked about the JD45 million that the government has reportedly allocated to renovate the Ministry of Finance building, in addition to the approximotely JD30 million budget for Al Mamlaka TV, which will go on the air today, in light of a difficult financial and economic crisis.

MP Sowan Shurfat demanded an assessment of the governorates’ councils and the decentralisation experience.

He stressed the importance of an economic plan to render Jordan self-reliant and free from the World Bank’s pressures, as well as revisiting the investment map and designing a plan for each region separately.

He also emphasized the need to establish projects, support education and health and find innovative transportation solutions, especially in Amman.

MP Hassan Ajarmah said he is withholding confidence in the government and criticised the mechanism through which the ministers are chosen, pointing out that controversial statements made by the ministers of the current government are evidence of their “incompetence”.

MP Mufleh Khaza’leh called on the government to support the agricultural sector by granting small farmers zero-interest loans, activating the Agricultural Risk Management Fund, as well as creating awareness and preventive and remedial programmes for agricultural diseases, in addition to supporting livestock farmers.

MP Abdullah Qaramseh demanded a “white revolution” to prosecute the corrupt and hold the governments accountable for their “failure to improve the standard of living and squandering of public funds through overspending”, in addition to removing all legal and administrative obstacles that face the process of improving the business and investment environment.

MP Khalid Fanatsah called for reducing the sales tax on all essential commodities and increasing the monthly salaries of civil and military employees and retirees by JD50.

Khalid Bakkar called for drafting a national strategy for the sectors of water, electricity and oil derivatives.

For his part, Nidal Al Taani said that the people are waiting for an answer on how to address the challenges people face as a result of the soaring prices of fuel, electricity and food.

Jawdat Darabseh called for examining all government-floated tenders that are suspected to involve graft, claiming that the ones related to Maan Military Hospital and the Princess Basma Hospital need to be reviewed.

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