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MPs continue debate of draft budget bill, call for improving living conditions


The Jordan Times


AMMAN — The Lower House on Wednesday continued its deliberations over the 2019 state budget draft law and the budgets of independent public institutions, with most of MPs’ comments again focusing on Jordanians' difficult economic situation, unemployment and poverty.
Lawmakers who took to the podium called on the government to increase the salaries and pensions of military and civil retirees, and to implement development projects in underprivileged areas across the Kingdom, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.
On December 4, the government submitted the 2019 state budget draft law to the House, with an estimated budget deficit of JD646 million after foreign grants.
MPs also stressed the need for effective measures to combat tax evasion, calling for greater improvement to the Kingdom's investment environment especially in the sectors of education, energy, health, tourism and agriculture, according to Petra.
Some deputies called for removing all "obstacles" hindering investments which, they claimed, pushed many foreign investors to leave the country. They also called for fighting bribery and corruption, as well as expanding the number of cases covered by the general pardon law.
Some MPs said they would cast a "nay" vote for the budget laws as a political message to the government that "insists on proceeding with the gas deal with Israel". For these deputies, Jordan's woes are more political than economic and have to do with the 1994 Wadi Araba Peace Treaty with Israel.
The deficit in the 2018 budget is expected to amount to 2.7 per cent of GDP by year end, compared with 2.6 per cent in 2017, while the total public debt is expected to total around JD28.4 billion by the end of 2018, constituting 94.5 per cent of GDP.
According to the 2019 state budget draft law, GDP is expected to increase by 2.3 per cent, 2.5 per cent and 2.7 per cent in 2019, 2020 and 2021 respectively.
The state budget statement submitted to the House estimated the volume of local revenue in 2019 to reach JD8.01 billion, with an increase of 14.8 per cent from 2018, with the reason primarily attributed to the rise in tax and non-tax revenues by 15.9 per cent and 12.9 per cent, respectively.
Tax revenues are estimated, for the entirety of 2019, at JD5.273 billion, of which income tax revenue would constitute JD3.61 billion, customs revenue JD365 million, property sale tax JD110 million, while non-tax revenues are estimated at JD2.737 billion.  
The House is expected to vote on the 2019 state budget draft law and the budgets of independent public institutions on Thursday.

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