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Farmers protest GAM decision to impose taxes on produce from Amman 'exports yard'

By Bahaa Al Deen Al Nawas - Feb 22,2020 - Last updated at Feb 22,2020

AMMAN — Farmers on Wednesday staged a sit-in at the central market for fruits and vegetables in Amman in response to the Greater Amman Municipality's (GAM) January decision to impose taxes on each tonne of vegetables and fruits exported through the new “exports yard” built last year, according to a source in the sector. 

The decision was made officially on January 1 of this year, when the exports yard began operating. However, farmers have so far refused to pay the taxes, which amount to JD10 for each tonne of vegetables and JD15 for each tonne of fruits. 

Najeh Al Karaki, the official spokesperson for a group of Jordanian farmers who participated in the sit-in, told The Jordan Times on Saturday over the phone that “farmers refused to abide by the rules of the yard because for 50 years, they have been directly selling their produce to merchants". 

He added that the exports yard, constructed across from the central market, was built in order to help farmers export their produce. 

According to Karaki, he has met with many officials from the current and previous governments to discuss the decision, but no solutions have been reached.  In light of continuing disagreement with the government, farmers are planning to stop supplying to the central market this Tuesday and Wednesday in protest.

“We expect no solutions except through the sit-in,” Karaki said, reiterating that many farmers are already facing a myriad of financial problems, including debt. He noted that, even after the government's recent decision to employ more Jordanians in the sector, Jordanians have refrained from working in agriculture. 

Nawash Al Yazjeen, a farmer from the Jordan Valley, said that an agreement is being discussed  between farmers, the government and the Jordan Farmers Union, noting that the yard so far has not been deducting taxes and is studying the situation.

“The manager of the central market said that farmers are still selling their crops without taxes,” Yazjeen said. He noted that farmers are waiting for the Cabinet’s decision on the matter before acting. 

President of the Jordan Valley Farmers Union Adnan Khaddam said that they will not be participating in the sit-in and will wait for the government and GAM to issue their decision before taking measures.

“There are no actual problems, because they are not deducting any money — neither the JD10 nor the JD15. There is an agreement to make the amount only 2.5JDs per tonne, but it is still under study. So we are going to wait before deciding what is next,” he said.

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