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Protesters decry ‘taxation policies’, price hikes

By Jassar Al Tahat - Feb 25,2017 - Last updated at Feb 25,2017

Protesters demonstrate against price hikes in downtown Amman on Friday (Photo by Osama Aqarbeh)

AMMAN — Around a thousand people participated in two rallies in downtown Amman on Friday to protest the government’s "impoverishment policies".

The rallies were organised by youth and grassroots opposition movements alongside the Islamic Action Front.

The crowd chanted against the government's "taxation policies" and the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) economic reform programme.

The crowd held banners calling for the resignation of the government and the forming of a “national rescue government”.

Former MPs and Islamic movement leaders attended the rallies, including former deputy Hind Al Fayez. 

She told the Jordan Times that "the people are calling for the ending of the impoverishment policies that the current government is adopting".

“All the rallies taking place today have no agenda other than to protest the price hiking [which] reaches into the pockets of the poor ,” she claimed

Ahmad Armouti, an Islamist leader, said “there is no other choice but to form a rescue government that represents the Jordanian people in order to defend their economic and social conditions”.

“The current government didn’t take into consideration the economic and social dangers surrounding Jordan in a time of turbulence in the region,” added Armouti.

Moeen Harasis, a leader in the youth and popular movement, told The Jordan Times that “all rallies taking place today in Amman are demanding the resignation of Mulki’s Cabinet”.

“But after all, removing Mulki is only half the solution. We need an honest entity to counter the current IMF policies and the taxation policy,” Harasis added.

The rallies in Amman came at the same time as rallies in Salt, Karak and Theeban all voicing the same demands.

Measures to increase taxes and customs duties on commodities and services that the government says are inessential are aimed at securing JD450 million, as part of a plan to narrow the budget deficit, within the context of understandings with the IMF.

Changes to the special tax regulations include adding a special tax on each cigarette pack that contains 20 cigarettes, with a value that ranges between JD0.05 and JD0.10.

A special tax of 26 per cent, up from 24 per cent, has been added on pre-paid and post-paid subscriptions of mobile phones and walkie-talkie devices, in addition to imposing JD2.6 tax on the purchase of new mobile SIM cards — pre-paid or post-paid.

Amending customs fees saw a hike of fees on many commodities, excluding main foods.

The government has pledged not to raise the prices of 70 per cent of “basic food items”.

The government has also raised the minimum wage from JD190 to JD220 and decided to deduct 10 per cent of any sum above JD2,000 in monthly salaries of civil servants, setting a cap of JD3,500 on public sector salaries.

The funds collected from these measures, which apply to the prime minister and ministers, among other top-ranking officials, will go to support the Treasury as part of a broad plan to rationalise public spending.

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