Jordan Parliament endorses IMF guided income tax law

Bill to raise tension amid rising level of poverty, unemployment

19 November, 12:40

    AMMAN - Jordan's lower house of parliament has endorsed a controversial IMF guided income tax law following brief deliberation late Sunday, months after the bill was withdrawn under popular pressure that lead to resignation of former prime minister, officials said.
    The tribal dominated lower house voted in favour of the bill that seeks to help the government collect funds to pay off debts that reached up to 95 percent of the GDP.
    Prime minister Omar al Razaz told MPs after the "yes" vote that Jordan was risking to pay higher interest rate on its debts, "had not this law been approved," according to Petra news agency.
    "We are looking to reduce the kingdom's budget deficit and begin to plan the debts…" claiming that "prices will not increase as a result of the law because the income tax law targets net profit." The law has imposed income tax on single Jordanians who earn JD 10,000 annually until 2020 and JD9,000 for the years after, while married Jordanians fall under the law if they earn JD 20,000 until the year 2020 and JD 18,000 for the years after, according to published reports.
    Activists have been critical of the government handling of wide spread corruption that is believed to be responsible for much of the kingdom's economic ailments, pointing their fingers at high profile cases involving security agencies, top families and figures close to the royal family.
    Meanwhile, a recent report by the audit bureau sighted multiple cases of suspected corruption and squandering of state assets by influential groups in amounts reaching billions. The report said hundreds of cases of corruption have been noted in public institutions, but activists insist the scale of corruption is wider than what the report has mentioned.
    The government said it was seeking minimum of JD 300 million annually from the income tax law to pay debts to the IMF, World Bank and local banks. Following the lower house approval, the bill will be voted by the Senates, or the what is locally known as the king's council, which is expected to rubber stamp the bill, before the pro-west monarch signs it into a law in accordance with the constitution.
    The coming weeks are expected to witness some waves of protests as poverty and unemployment continue to rise in most parts of the kingdom, amid concern of confrontation between security forces and protesters across the country.

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