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Defence Law to remain in place until COVID-19 crisis is resolved — Razzaz

By JT - Jun 23,2020 - Last updated at Jun 25,2020

AMMAN — The Defence Law will come to an end when the state of emergency concludes, Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Omar Razzaz said on Monday.

As part of a series of measures to halt the spread of COVID-19, a Royal Decree was issued to instal Defence Law No. 13 for 1992 on March 17, 2020. It then took effect across the Kingdom.

The King instructed the government to implement the law "without infringing on Jordanians’ political and civil rights, but rather, safeguarding them and protecting public liberties and the right to self-expression enshrined in the Constitution and in accordance with regular laws currently in effect, and guaranteeing the respect of private property, be it real estate or movable and immovable funds”.

In an interview with Al Mamlaka TV, Razzaz said that the Defence Law will remain active until the issues related to the COVID-19 crisis — public health and the economy — have been addressed, stressing that the government "cannot address all the economic losses", especially given the current global recession due to the virus, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported on Monday.

Responding to a question on the government's decision to suspend pay raises for public employees, the premier said: "Early on in the crisis, we had said that a technical pay raise would be delayed for all public servants until the end of the year, with no exceptions, but would be reintroduced at the beginning of 2021". He attributed the cut to a revenue shortage. 

Regarding public sector appointments, Razzaz said that the government is considering hiring new employees in a limited number of sectors. Last week, however, the Cabinet decided to prohibit the health sector from hiring new doctors and nurses.

The government has increased the allocations of bread subsidies, he said, noting that the National Aid Fund (NAF) has managed to reach more than 500,000 individuals through the support programmes offered by the NAF, the Social Security Corporation, Zakat Fund, and the Himmat Watan Fund, with nearly 2.5 million citizens benefitting from the programmes. This number is expected to increase, he said.

He also pointed out that the Central Bank of Jordan has instructed banks to defer loan installments for March, April and May.

In response to a question about reducing the salaries of private sector workers under Defence Order No. 6, the premier said that the move "aims at finding a balance" between employers and employees in the sectors hit hardest by COVID-19.

The crisis witnessed among daily newspapers is a global one, Razzaz said.  The government had instructed ministries and institutions to pay daily newspapers' dues to allow them to pay their employees' wages.

The government "is committed to not raising the sales tax", but "will not keep silent" on tax evasion, he said, stressing the importance of stopping the attacks and defamation on social media against various public figures.

The interview also covered His Majesty King Abdullah's efforts on the Arab and international levels to warn the international community of the repercussions of Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. Razzaz said that Jordan's stance is "clear and firm", highlighting that the Kingdom "has alternatives" in this arena, Petra added. 

Commenting on the Caesar Act, Razzaz said that the Act will affect Amman's trade with Damascus, noting that the Kingdom is considering the possibility of starting intra-regional trade between the two countries.

According to the premier, general debt has reached some 100 per cent of the GDP. He highlighted that the Jordanian economy "has proved its resilience" and that the Kingdom's food exports have reached some 80 to 90 countries.

Razzaz also said that 17,000 citizens returned to the Kingdom during the coronavirus crisis, affirming that the government "will bring home all Jordanians who wish to return".


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