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Empowering refugees and absorbing them

Oct 29,2017 - Last updated at Oct 29,2017

The Economic and Social Council, an official think tank, ended its silence and issued a report calling, among other things, for absorbing Syrian refugees and adopting them in Jordan’s regular economy.

This policy coincides with what the European Union is demanding in return for the simplification of source of origin rules and, consequently, allowing Jordanian exports to enter the European market.

The European Union is eager to keep the Syrian refugees in their present locations and to give them priority for jobs in the regular labour market, especially in industrial companies, in order to keep them away, so that they do not try to go to Europe.

Jordan industrial companies are required by the European Union to have at least 15 per cent of their labour force from among the Syrian refugees. This rather high percentage has to rise gradually to 25 per cent. No industrial company that fails to abide by this condition will be permitted to enter the European market.

The European Union does not care about the heavy burden over 1 million Syrian refugees puts on Jordan’s small economy. It is not worried to see unemployment in Jordan exceeding 18 per cent.

One can understand the motive for the European Union’s call to keep refugees in the Jordanian economy, but why does Jordan’s Economic and Social Council call for the empowering of the Syrian refugees and their absorption in Jordan’s labour market, in its regular economy?

The Economic and Social Council knows well that it is Jordan’s policy to encourage the Syrian refugees to go back home. 

This is happening right now, but at a very slow pace.

On the contrary, the government is supposed to give refugees more incentives to return to their country and not to make their presence in Jordan permanent.

By the way, the Economic and Social Council, in its above-mentioned report, took a position against any increase in taxes and fees which, in its opinion, may worsen the present economic recession and generate additional risks.

The anti-tax camp has now found an intellectual supporter that it can praise.

The council knows quite well that all taxes in Jordan, direct and indirect, do no yield more than 25 per cent of GDP. The normal rate is 40 per cent.

Income tax in particular does not take more than 4 per cent of the gross domestic product, an extremely low percentage, and 97 per cent of Jordanian individuals are tax exempt if their monthly income does not exceed JD2,000 a month.

This state of affairs is not justified in a country like Jordan.

 

If this is not enough, the council takes a position against the IMF economic reform programme on the assumption that it complicates the economic growth problem, a position that puts the council squarely in the camp of the extreme opposition and rejectionists.

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