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PM-designate will withdraw the tax bill after new Cabinet takes oath

Razzaz says income tax will be revisited as part of entire tax burden

By JT - Jun 08,2018 - Last updated at Jun 08,2018

Prime Minister-designate Omar Razzaz meets with Lower House Speaker Atef Tarawneh in Amman on Thursday (Petra photo)

AMMAN — Prime Minister-designate Omar Razzaz has pledged to withdraw the income tax draft law after the new government takes the oath before the King. 

After meeting leading businessmen, bankers and professional associations leaders at the Prime Ministry’s Guest House, Razzaz told reporters that that there are three reasons to make the move, the first of which is that the tax law is too significant and touches on the livelihoods of all people and segments of society and so it needs to be discussed more thoroughly than it has been, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Razzaz added that the income tax bill should be discussed as part of the entire tax burden that includes indirect and direct taxation.

The third reason, he explained, is that the government is convinced that tax evasion is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.  

In a Tweet later in the day, Razzaz said that a “positive atmosphere” prevailed during his meetings where discussions focused on how best to implement the King’s directives in the Letter of Designation.

“Dialogue and consultations will be the approach adopted by the government regarding public policymaking. Withdrawing the income tax bill will be a step in that direction,” he said.  

Petra also quoted President of the Professional Associations Council Ali Obous as saying that Razzaz met their demand to withdraw the bill and the Civil Service By-law, adding that he sensed from the discussions with the PM-designate that “there has been a change in approach” to economic woes. 

In remarks to the press following a meeting between Razzaz and Senate President Faisal Al Fayez on Thursday, the latter said that the discussions reached a conclusion to withdraw the bill after the Cabinet members take the oath of office.

Fayez called on Razzaz to form a government that is able to translate the directives included in Letter of Designation into facts on the ground, especially those items related to carrying out an inclusive national dialogue on a new income tax law that can receive national consensus.

He expressed hope that Razzaz’ government wins the confidence of Jordanians and the Parliament. 

Also on Thursday, Razzaz met Lower House Speaker Atef Tarawneh as part of his preparations for forming a new government.

Razzaz expressed his keenness to sustain cooperation and coordination with the Parliament to implement His Majesty King Abdullah’s visions to serve the country and citizens, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

In this regard, the premier-designate stressed that the government’s top priority will be holding consultations with both Chambers of the Parliament and professional associations on the income tax draft law and the entire action plan of the Cabinet. 

For his part, Tarawneh highlighted the importance of expediting the process of the bill’s withdrawal, noting that most MPs are against the amendments made to the existing law.

He added that the House would reject these amendments when they are presented to the extraordinary session’s agenda, calling on Razzaz to start dialogue with the chamber blocs to acquaint them with the government’s action plan.

The new government is tasked with a national responsibility and better serving Jordanian citizens, amid formidable challenges that require swift action that follows the guidelines His Majesty set in the Letter of Designation, foremost of which was the need to start a comprehensive national development project, the speaker said. 

He added that such an enterprise has to enable Jordanians to unleash their capabilities, meet their needs through qualitative services and provide a social security system that protects the vulnerable through a fair tax system. 

In remarks to the press following the meeting, Razzaz stressed that the government’s position on all issues will be based on the result of dialogue on the income tax draft law.

He expressed confidence that dialogue would put the public mind at ease, stressing that people have the right to express their opinion via all peaceful means.

The premier-designate said that is government will listen to all participants in the dialogue and take immediate measures to put things back on track. 

Meanwhile, Razzaz also met Thursday with the Professional Associations Council, which has been leading a nationwide protest against the income tax bill that has seen two general strikes in two weeks. 

The designated premier was quoted as vowing that there would be no taxes that do not result in good-quality education and health and transportation services.

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