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Farmers ‘fatigued’ by further taxation burden

By Hana Namrouqa - Feb 23,2018 - Last updated at Feb 23,2018

Farmers voice their concern for the sector regarding the government’s decision to raise taxes on agricultural produce (Petra photo)

AMMAN — Farmers on Thursday said that they were “anxiously” awaiting the government to annul its recent imposition of a 10-per cent tax on some agricultural inputs and outputs.

The Jordan Farmers Union (JFU) said that the taxation on the agricultural sector, made without consultation with farmers’ representatives and sector leaders, is adding to the financial burdens and losses that Jordan’s farmers have endured since the closure of Jordan’s borders with Iraq and Syria.

“This new 10 per cent tax on the agricultural sector is adding more burdens to the already fatigued farmers. In numbers, the new tax has raised the running costs of one agricultural unit of protected cultivations from JD45,160 to JD51,900,” JFU Director General Mahmoud Oran told The Jordan Times.

He noted that the cost of one agricultural unit of protected cultivations, which entails 40 greenhouses, increased by JD7, 740.

“This is a figure that the majority of our small-scale farmers cannot afford, especially that the rising cost will not be coupled with an increase in the price of produce, whose value is expected to drop,” Oran noted.

He explained that the public’s purchasing power has plunged since the government announced new taxation measures earlier this year, adding that demand for fruits and vegetables is expected to drop, which will cause prices to remain unchanged, if not plummet further.

Meanwhile, a sector insider, who preferred to remain unnamed, said that “not much is expected from the government,” following Prime Minister Hani Mulki’s meeting with leaders of the sector and members of the Agriculture and Water Committee at the Lower House last week.

“We are not optimistic. Mulki’s meeting with the farmers was just to defuse anger and we became aware of that after the prime minister promised to get back to us after consulting with the International Monetary Fund,” the source told The Jordan Times on Thursday.

Mulki told a House panel and stakeholders that the government would study the impact of possible exemption for the agricultural sector from the price hikes that have gone into effect recently.

He stated at the meeting that any decision in this regard should take into consideration that public finances remain sound, reiterating that salvaging the economy is a shared responsibility, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, quoted the head of the panel, MP Khalid Hiyari as saying.

The meeting came in the midst of relentless protests by farmers and unionists, who threatened to escalate measures if the government does not reverse its decision.

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