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Razzaz addresses Jordanians on Roya TV, promises ‘no tax hikes in 2019’

By JT - Jan 05,2019 - Last updated at Jan 05,2019

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz attends a session of the Lower House on Wednesday (Photo by Osama Aqarbeh)

AMMAN — No new or additional hikes in taxes will be introduced in 2019, Prime Minister Omar Razzaz confirmed on Friday. 

In an interview with the Nabd Al Balad programme on Roya Television, Razzaz reviewed the government’s main measures and decisions in 2018, which were designed to alleviate pressure on low and middle-income households.

The sales tax on 150 basic food items was either lowered or exempted, he said, adding that pricing depends mainly on supply and demand, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Razzaz noted that the 2019 state budget clearly identified the priorities of the government, which will show tangible results in respect to employment, health, transportation and other public services.

The government seeks to balance its local revenues and current expenditures in an effort to achieve self-reliance and boost the private sector’s involvement in the implementation of capital projects, he added.

For increasing revenues, the government chose to hike income tax rather than raising the "easier" sales tax which would reflect negatively on Jordanians, he explained, noting that household incomes up to JD1,660 per month are exempted from income tax.

Overall, the government seeks to redistribute the tax burdens and channel revenues towards the boosting of basic services that citizens need, he noted.

According to the premier, Jordanians contribute 26.5 per cent to the Treasury’s total revenues, in taxes and fees.

The problem seems to lie in the distribution of taxation, between direct taxes, such as sales taxes, and indirect taxes, such as income taxes, Razzaz underlined.

He described his official visit to Turkey as "important", as it served boosting political and security coordination between the two countries. 

As for the government’s talks with Iraq, Razzaz said that it was especially fruitful as His Majesty King Abdullah has paved the way for boosting cooperation between Jordan and its neighbour to the east.

Jordan and Iraq agreed on increasing cooperation in a number of fields, especially transportation, trade and industry, which includes constructing an industrial zone on the border and exempting 360 Jordanian export items from customs fees, in addition to the crude oil pipeline project, which is expected to generate billions in revenue, Razzaz said.

He also pointed out that the Kingdom, under the directives of His Majesty, has adopted a policy that supports the unity of Syria and finding a political solution that ends the Syrian crisis. The Kingdom had neither closed its borders nor embassy in Syria, he said, adding that there are technical and logistic issues being addressed in the meantime.

The general pardon did not include the gharimat (indebted women) or the students' loans, but the government will resolve these financial issues through the Awqaf Ministry and other channels at hand, he reaffirmed.  

The protesters are Jordanians calling for legitimate demands, such as combating corruption and improving services and fostering political participation, he said, which is all in compliance with His Majesty’s calls for bettering Jordan, he added.

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