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Gov’t fighting uphill battle as critics ready for strike

House speaker says lawmakers would not accept bill as is

By JT - May 30,2018 - Last updated at May 30,2018

AMMAN — The government seems to be fighting an unexpectedly fierce battle to defend the income tax bill, after sector leaders joined forces to down it even before lawmakers start debating it.

An official has told The Jordan Times that the government would use all its power to get the draft law enacted as referred from Cabinet to the Lower House, while critics, led by the Professional Associations Council, plan a strike today (see related stories on page 3). 

Lower House Speaker Atef Tarawneh said legislators will not accept to fall any kind of pressures. On Tuesday, he told the Jordan News Agency, Petra, that the government's draft version of the income tax law is not binding for the House, which “will deal with the draft law in a way that meets citizens' needs and serves their interests”. 

He stressed that the referral of the draft law to the House does not mean "surrendering to the government's version of the law".

The strike organisers announced on Tuesday that members of 33 associations and unions are taking part in the strike against the proposed income tax law.

The main professional associations — including those of doctors, engineers, journalists, teachers, lawyers and pharmacists — issued instructions to their members for the work stoppage depending on the nature of the profession.

The Jordan Medical Association (JMA) has called on all its members to observe a work stoppage all day Wednesday, and to only “treat emergency cases”.

Teachers will also join the strike all over the Kingdom, but parents were urged to send their children to schools for the final exams.

Pharmacists were also urged by their association to observe a strike from 9am to 2pm.

The planned strike will be followed by a main gathering at the Professional Associations Compound in Shmeisani, Amman. 

"We reject the draft law and want to deliver a message in a civilised manner," a unionist stated.

Jordan’s farmers, who have been protesting for weeks, will join professional associations’ nationwide strike by stopping the supply of produce, meat and poultry to the local markets, the Jordan Farmers Union (JFU) said in a statement made available to the Jordan Times.

The central markets of fruit and vegetables in Amman and other governorates will not receive trucks laden with fruit and vegetables, while meat stores and supermarkets will not be supplied with fresh meat and poultry, as farmers strike against the new income tax law, JFU Director General Mahmoud Oran said on Tuesday.

Social media accounts were fraught with messages urging people to help make the strike a success, calling on citizens to also refrain from buying fuel and other commodities to pressure the government into caving in to the demands of the strike leaders.

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