AMMAN –– Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour on Tuesday announced that the government has endorsed several measures that aim at increasing state revenues and cutting public spending.

During an interview with Jordan Television, Ensour said that the Cabinet approved several austerity measures, including halting appointments in senior positions at government agencies and reducing financial support to independent government institutions by 15 per cent.

The austerity package also includes plans to merge some independent public agencies with similar mandates and scrap others. Independent agencies currently number 62.

According to Ensour, six government institutions will be scrapped and 10 others will be merged into five entities.

Among other austerity measures, the premier noted that the government will review privileges given to employees of independent institutions such as allowances and health insurance.

In addition, the government will not buy any new cars and will impose strict control on the use of government-owned vehicles by requesting traffic police to monitor their use, he said.

The premier noted that the government would facilitate licensing and importing measures of motorcycles in a bid to reduce the energy bill, adding that large supermarkets that operate after 10:00pm will be charged higher electricity tariffs.

Referring to policies that seek to generate higher revenues, Ensour said the government has agreed to increase royalty fees on mining firms, but did not mention the amount.

“Deals signed with the phosphate and potash firms were unjust and Jordanians have always complained about that,” the prime minister said, noting that the government will address these agreements and also boost investments in the mining sector.

Other measures include raising residency fees of guest workers and overstay fines for illegal labourers.

Authorities will also work on enhancing tax collection, he noted.

Official figures estimate tax evasion in the Kingdom to be over JD700 million a year.

The prime minister also pointed out that the government will import 1.5 million energy-saving light bulbs that will be sold to Jordanians at low prices to encourage electricity conservation.