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'Over JD2.2 billion spent on subsidies last year'

By JT - Aug 14,2014 - Last updated at Aug 14,2014

AMMAN – The value of government subsidies for various goods and services amounted to over JD2.2 billion in 2013, Planning Minister Ibrahim Saif said on Wednesday. 

Saif revealed the figures while briefing the Council of Ministers on the volume of government subsidies according to Finance Ministry data, indicating that it constituted 9.2 per cent of the Kingdom's gross domestic product and 36.4 per cent of overall government spending last year. 

Non-Jordanians' share of the subsidy was 4 per cent, which is around JD85.6 million, the minister said, noting that the data also calculated the share of each income segment according to the living expenses of households. 

The underprivileged bracket is the one where an individual’s annual expenditure is below the poverty line of JD813.7, while the annual individual expenditure of the bracket below the middle class is between JD813 and JD1,627.  

Individuals whose annual expenditure is two to four times the poverty line, from JD1,627 to JD3,245, are classified as middle income, whereas the rich are those who spend more than JD3,254 per year.  

Saif pointed that the government’s support for bread through selling subsidised flour to bakeries amounted to JD185 million in 2013.

He indicated that nearly 88 per cent of the bread subsidy went to middle and lower income households. 

Turning to water subsidies, Saif said they amounted to JD345.2 million, while subsidies for gas cylinders –– used for cooking and heating purposes –– were JD39.7 million. 

Subsidising electricity tariffs represented the highest cost on the budget last year, reaching JD1.321 billion, the minister said, noting that the poor bracket received the smallest share of this subsidy. 

Poor families benefited the least from the electricity subsidy as their share was only JD105 million last year, while those of the middle class and the bracket classified below middle income were JD447 million and JD456 million.

Meanwhile, the rich segment’s share was JD311 million, he said. 

The education sector subsidy, mainly to public universities, stood at JD68.5 million by the end of last year, Saif added, noting it did not include the financial support provided to the fund for underprivileged students.   

Subsidies for the health sector totalled JD157.2 million, while cash support disbursed by the National Aid Fund to poor families across the Kingdom amounted to JD85.9 million, according to the Planning Ministry statement. 

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