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MPs vote for obliging gov’t to obtain House approval for any contract with private sector

By Khaled Neimat - Jul 08,2014 - Last updated at Jul 08,2014

AMMAN — The government will have to obtain the Lower House’s approval on any contract it signs with the private sector under changes to the draft public-private partnership law endorsed by deputies on Tuesday.

The proposal to do so was submitted by MP Khalil Atiyeh (Amman, 1st District) at a Lower House session.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said obliging the government to seek MP approval for every single contract will slow down the implementation of public-private partnership agreements.

Ensour said the House-backed change might be in violation of Article 117 of the Constitution, which reads: “Any concession granting a right for the exploitation of mines, minerals or public utilities shall be sanctioned by law.”

The article in question, Ensour said, does not include public-private partnership agreements.

“Imagine the economic performance if we have to obtain the Lower House’s approval on each contract with the private sector,” he told MPs.

Agreeing with Ensour, head of the House Investment Committee MP Kheirallah Abu Saalik (Amman, 4th District), said “endorsing this proposal is in violation of the Constitution.”

But the majority agreed with Atiyeh’s proposal, arguing that it would preserve public assets and prevent any corrupt practices under the guise of public-private partnership.

But the chaotic arguments that ensued under the Dome prevented MPs from voting on the draft law, forcing Deputy Lower House Speaker Ahmad Safadi to adjourn the session.

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