IMF, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and EU offer Jordan billions of dollars

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Shaikh Mohammad is in Saudi Arabia for talks on the Jordan crisis with King Salman.

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait approve $2.5b Jordan aid

11 June 2018 | Wires | Gulf Times

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait have offered $2.5 billion in aid for Jordan to ease its economic crisis following a wave of anti-austerity protests, the Saudi state media announced early Monday.

The announcement came following a meeting attended by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

“In light of the close brotherly ties… it was agreed that the three countries would provide an economic aid package to Jordan totalling $2.5 billion,” the official Saudi Press Agency said.

Shaikh Mohammad was received upon arrival at the King Abdul Aziz International airport by Prince Khalid Al Faisal, Adviser to King Salman and Emir of Makkah, and a number of senior Saudi officials.

The UAE delegation includes Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, Shaikh Shakhbout Bin Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and Khalifa Saeed Sulaiman, Director General of the Department of Protocol and Hospitality in Dubai.

The package, announced at a summit of the four nations in the holy city of Mecca, will include a deposit in the Jordanian central bank, World Bank guarantees, budgetary support over five years and financing for development projects, SPA said.

The summit, called by Saudi King Salman, was attended by Shaikh Mohammad, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and representatives from Kuwait.

Mass protests against price rises and a proposed tax hike have rocked Jordan in recent days as the government pushes austerity measures to slash the country’s debt in the face of an economic crisis.

Earlier on Sunday, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced 20 million euros in aid for Jordan.

Cash-strapped Jordan, a close US ally that relies heavily on donors, is struggling to curb its debt after securing a $723-million loan from the International Monetary Fund in 2016.

Austerity measures tied to the loan have seen prices of basic necessities rise across the kingdom — culminating in a week of angry protests over tax proposals that forced prime minister Hani Mulki to resign.

The authorities on Thursday announced they were withdrawing the unpopular legislation, but still face a mammoth task to balance popular demands with the need to reduce the public debt burden.

Jordan blames its economic woes on instability rocking the region and the burden of hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from war-torn Syria, complaining it has not received enough international support.

The World Bank says Jordan has “weak growth prospects” this year, while 18.5 per cent of the working age population is unemployed.


 

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EU pledges millions to ease Jordan’s economic woes

10 June 2018 | The New Arab

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced Sunday 20 million Euros ($23.5 million) in aid for Jordan following a wave of anti-austerity protests that led to the prime minister’s resignation.

The EU will support Jordan “with all possible means at our disposal including economic and financial means,” Mogherini said during a visit to Amman.

“This is a country that has a vital role to play in the region,” she told a news conference.

“You will have always the EU at your side fully supporting your reform work.”

The funds would “address in particular the needs of Jordanians that are particularly vulnerable,” Mogherini said.

Cash-strapped Jordan, a close US ally that relies heavily on donors, is struggling to rein in its debt after securing a $723-million loan from the International Monetary Fund in 2016.

Austerity measures have seen prices of basic necessities rise across the kingdom, culminating in angry protests over tax proposals – later withdrawn – that forced prime minister Hani Mulki to resign on 4 June.

Jordan blames its economic woes on instability rocking the region and the burden of hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war in neighbouring Syria.

The World Bank says Jordan has “weak growth prospects” this year, while 18.5 percent of the working age population is unemployed.

Later on Sunday Jordan was due to hold talks in Mecca with one of its major donors, Saudi Arabia, as well as the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait on ways to help Amman overcome its economic problems.


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Protesters demonstrate outside the prime minister’s office in Amman Photograph: Khalil Mazraawi/AFP/Getty Images

Jordan: thousands protest against IMF-backed austerity measures

03 June 2018 | Wires | The Guardian

Fresh protests have taken place in cities across Jordan against IMF-backed austerity measures including a new income tax draft law and price hikes, hours after the government and unions failed to reach an agreement to end the standoff.

About 3,000 people faced down a heavy security presence to gather near the prime minister’s office in central Amman until the early hours of Sunday morning, waving Jordanian flags and signs reading “we will not kneel”.

Protests have been happening in the country since Wednesday, when hundreds of people filled the streets of Amman and there were demonstrations in other cities to demand the fall of the government.

Last week the government proposed a law, yet to be approved by parliament, aimed at increasing taxes on employees by at least 5% and on companies by between 20% and 40%. It is the latest in a series of economic measures, along with repeated price hikes on basic goods, since Amman secured a $723m (£542m) three-year credit line from the International Monetary Fund in 2016.

The Economist Intelligence Unit this year ranked Jordan’s capital as one of the most expensive in the Arab world. Since January, Jordanians have faced repeated price rises including on bread, as well as tax hikes on basic goods.

Overnight, protesters outside the officer of the premier, Hani al-Mulki, shouted slogans including “the ones raising prices want to burn the country” and “this Jordan is our Jordan, Mulki should leave”.

On Saturday the prime minister met trade union representatives who demanded the income tax law be revoked, but they failed to reach an agreement.

The head of Jordan’s federation of unions, Ali Obus, demanded that the state “maintain its independence and not bow to IMF demands”.

King Abdullah II called on parliament to lead a “comprehensive and reasonable national dialogue” on the new tax law. “It would not be fair that the citizen alone bears the burden of financial reforms,” he told officials on Saturday evening.

A majority of 78 out of parliament’s 130 representatives have pledged to vote against the income tax law introduced by the government last month. The speaker of Jordan’s senate called a consultative meeting for Sunday.

Mulki told reporters on Saturday that meetings would continue, adding: “Sending this bill to the house of representatives does not mean that the house of representatives will approve it.”

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