AMMAN — The government has rescinded a proposed decision to merge the Ministry of Environment with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs under the 2013 draft law on restructuring ministries and public institutions.

Minister of Environment Nayef Al Fayez confirmed the news on Sunday, saying that the Cabinet, convinced by the mandating reasons provided by the ministry, had decided to annul the merger plan and exclude the environment ministry from the projected restructuring programme.

“We referred a report to the Council of Ministers on the infeasibility of merging the environment ministry with the municipal affairs ministry,” Fayez said.

“We told the Cabinet that the environment ministry was a monitoring body over other agencies and was currently implementing vital projects and thus should be sovereign and independent.”

Additionally, Fayez said, the team that conducted the report recommended that the ministry be kept unmerged as it is receiving funding from international donors for green energy projects.

“Persuaded by the rationale presented, Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour and his Council of Ministers decided to abort the proposed merger,” Fayez told The Jordan Times over the phone.

The government’s decision to dissolve the Ministry of Environment and merge it with another public institution had raised the ire of environmentalists, who said the move would erase a decade of struggle to strengthen environmental action in Jordan.

Late last year, the Legislation and Opinion Bureau posted the 2013 draft law on restructuring ministries and public institutions on its website for comments.

Environmental activists described the plan to merge the ministries as impulsive and lacking thorough consideration and urged the government to annul it.

The restructuring plan, the Cabinet said, is part of the government’s austerity measures and an attempt to eliminate redundancy and improve the government’s performance.

The move was first announced by Ensour as part of a plan to slash public expenditures, considering that the government currently has 70 independent commissions and institutions with a total budget of JD2 billion.