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Farmers suspend strike following gov’t pledges to meet demands

By Hana Namrouqa - Mar 18,2018 - Last updated at Mar 18,2018

Farmers have been protesting in front of Parliament for over two months, denouncing the tax increase on agricultural products (File photo)

AMMAN — Farmers on Sunday suspended their two-month protest in front of the Parliament after receiving government assurances of meeting their demand of annulling taxes on the agricultural sector, according to a farmers’ representative.

The committee for defending the rights of farmers said on Sunday that its decision to suspend the protest was reached after a Thursday meeting between farmers and heads of the Senate’s and Lower House’s water and agriculture committees Marwan Hmoud and Khaled Hiyari, according to Ihsan Musharbesh, member of the committee for defending the rights of farmers.

“We presented Hmoud and Hiyari with a set of proposals and recommendations that allow the government to generate earnings from the agricultural sector, estimated at JD32 million, without having to tax the sector and especially small farmers,” Musharbesh told The Jordan Times.

During a meeting with Prime Minister Hani Mulki, Hmoud and Hiyari submitted a memorandum including a set of alternatives to the taxation imposed on agricultural production’s inputs, which was prepared in coordination with farmers’ representatives.

At the meeting, Mulki stressed that the government will “positively” examine the suggestions, expressing keenness for improving the sector and removing all obstacles it is facing, “especially in light of the border closures [due to regional turbulence] and, consequently, the drop in agricultural exports”, the Jordan News Agency, Petra reported.

“We were promised that the government will look into our proposals, therefore, we agreed on suspending the protest,” Musharbesh said.

Farmers demand that the government withdraw the 10 per cent tax on agricultural inputs, just as it announced last month that it would annul the 10 per cent tax on agricultural outputs. 

The government’s exemption of outputs means nothing on the ground, the farmers argued, noting that agricultural inputs constitute 82-92 per cent of farmers’ expenditure.

“We are suspending our protest for two weeks, if nothing happens, we will renew the protests,” he said.

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