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Joint Cabinet-Lower House meeting identifies government priorities for coming period

MPs insist on amendments raising income threshold for tax-included citizens

By JT - Nov 13,2018 - Last updated at Nov 13,2018

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz and Lower House Speaker Atef Tarawneh speak to the press after a meeting attended by MPs and ministers on Monday (Petra photo)

AMMAN — Lower House Speaker Atef Tarawneh, members of the House’s Permanent Bureau and heads of committees on Monday met with Prime Minister Omar Razzaz and a group of ministers, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Discussions during the meeting, held in the Lower House, focused on the implementation of the pillars included in the Speech from the Throne as a joint task for the government and  Parliament, the government's priorities during the coming period, as well as the announcement of specific results reached by the government in consultation with the MPs.

Tarawneh said that the amendments made by the Economy and Investment Committee on the income tax draft law exceeded 70 per cent of the total of its articles, calling on the MPs to study the committee's amendments to reach a beneficial and even law that enhances the economic and investment environment of the state and protects the middle and poor segments of the community.

The Lower House speaker raised a number of questions about the envisaged priorities on which the next state budget will be based on, indicating that the government's approach to consult with the MPs will result in a work programme that constitutes an important proactive plan in the framework of cooperation between authorities.

The heads of the Lower House’s committees tackled several issues, including tax, fighting corruption and the electricity bill, among other topics that concern the jurisdiction of their committees and require the government to take actions and make decisions to implement them.

Razzaz stressed that the government will commit to achieving the national priorities discussed in the meeting, which will be clear and measurable targets and will make a difference in the lives of Jordanians.

Razzaz said that the Lower House’s adoption of the illicit gains draft law is an important step within the anti-corruption efforts, expressing hope that the anti-corruption system will be enhanced further through the adoption of the anti-corruption draft law. 

On the tobacco case, which was raised by several MPs, Razzaz confirmed that all the information in the case has been referred to the Jordan Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission, which studied and transferred the case to the public prosecutor.

On the draft amendments to the Income Tax Law, Razzaz stressed that the draft law is now in the hands of the Lower House, pointing out that the law will include only about 10 per cent of households.

On the income tax law amendments, Tarawneh stressed that MPs are insisting that the threshold to be included in income-tax eligible segments must be raised to JD10,000 per capita and JD20,000 for households, in addition to up to JD3,000 in exemptions on VAT receipts and invoices.

On the general pardon, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State Rajai Muasher pointed out that the general pardon is the right of His Majesty King Abdullah and is issued by law, stressing that the responsibility of the Cabinet is only to study the issue and put forth recommendations accordingly. 

Muasher also pointed out that the ministerial legal committee examined the issue and sent it to a technical committee of the concerned bodies, adding that only 144 people would benefit from the general pardon if the criteria adopted in the 2011 pardon were adopted. 

Therefore, new criteria are being adopted for the purpose of expanding the number of the general pardon-covered citizens, where the committee has an initial perception that some 8,000 citizens will benefit from the general pardon, Muasher explained.

Lower House Speaker Atef Tarawneh said in a press statement after the meeting that the discussions were “fruitful” and dealt with all the pillars included in the Speech from the Throne, in addition to classifying these pillars so as to facilitate the process of follow-up, mark the completed tasks and put forth recommendations for incomplete ones for 2019.

The meeting also touched on a host of other local issues, including Gazans living in Jordan and the Cybercrime Law.

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