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Delivering on reform

Nov 18,2019 - Last updated at Nov 18,2019

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz on Monday announced a series of measures aimed at stimulating the economy, rationing expenditure, improving services and saving time and efforts for citizens and investors, which are based upon the directives of His Majesty King Abdullah, who instructed the government to embark on an economic programme.

These measures are to be implemented in phases according to four pillars: Reviewing salaries and wages, stimulating the economy and incentivising investments, improving the quality of services provided to citizens and administrative reform and public finance.

In his Speech from the Throne at the opening of the 18th Parliament’s 4th session, King Abdullah said more measures will follow, including a review of regulations and legislation related to taxes and customs, to facilitate business and alleviate the hardship on citizens.

Monday’s measures are brave, timely, long-awaited and designed to help reduce the burden on the 2020 state budget, which the premier at a meeting with Senate President Faisal Fayez said “will not be easy”.

One of the decisions entailed merging and cancelling eight independent institutions whose spheres of authority are already overlapping with those of other ministries and public entities and which fall under the umbrella of larger public bodies.

This bold decision is something that lawmakers and citizens have been demanding for years. Merging or cancelling independent government bodies has not been an easy task and moving forward with such a decision should eventually lead to cutting government expenditure, as in the 2019 state budget the revenues for independent institutions is estimated at JD1.388 billion, while expenditure is forecast to be JD1.500 billion, constituting a deficit of JD112 million.

This much-needed measure, which the government said will not affect the employment of existing employees, should be coupled with officially optimising the resources of these entities to improve the productivity of all independent public bodies.

Reducing the special tax on electric cars was another important decision announced Monday, which, according to traders, will help reduce the price of electric cars by between JD1,500 and JD2,000. Any further measures that would help increase citizens’ use of electric cars are highly welcomed, considering the positive impact on the environment as well as Jordan’s production of surplus electricity.

One of the measures announced by the government on Monday was the introduction of a new procurement system, under which all public entity procurements will go paperless.

This will not only help streamline the process, but will also help save time and effort, efficiently manage spending and speed up the process of settling bills.

Monday’s steps, which will be followed by further measures, as His Majesty highlighted in his Speech from the Throne, are key steps on the right path towards helping Jordan boost its economy and advance its home-grown reforms.

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