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Jordan has the resolve to overcome corona crisis — Finance minister

By JT - Mar 18,2020 - Last updated at Mar 22,2020

Finance Minister Mohamad Al-Ississ

AMMAN — Jordan “will overcome” the corona crisis, Finance Minister Mohamad Al-Ississ has affirmed, stressing that the safety of Jordanian citizens is “non-negotiable”.

Speaking during an interview on Al-Mamlaka TV on Wednesday, Al-Ississ said that “it is the government’s duty” to help citizens overcome these difficult times.

“I am no better than the soldier who stays up all night in our streets, and no better than the doctor who risks his life to save people. Our duty is to do the impossible to help them,” the minister said.

The Kingdom has “learned important lessons” from other countries — in particular, to not delay strong responses, with the aim of protecting citizens, he said.

On disbursing public sector salaries earlier than their usual date, Al-Ississ noted that the government has taken the “challenging measure” to ensure that employees have the cash that they need to buy essentials during these “trying times”.

Regarding the private sector stimulus package released on Wednesday, Al-Ississ noted that decisions were made in coordination with the private sector, including the chambers of industry and commerce.

Fiscal policy “must always counteract economic circumstances” he said, noting: “When the economy slows down, it is my task as minister of finance to facilitate what is necessary for it to grow, not to pull the brakes on it for it to slow down further.”

Al-Ississ noted that the country is closely coordinating with the International Monetary Fund in this regard, stressing “their understanding and cooperative stance”. 

The decisions, in light of the coronavirus crisis, include delaying social security payments, postponing sales tax filing deadlines for certain sectors, numerous measures by the Central Bank of Jordan to boost liquidity and decisions to lower electricity burdens during the period of restricted movement.

When asked about the cost of the coronavirus crisis on the Jordanian economy in Jordanian dinars, the minister said: “The cost thus far, sir, is 56 dear Jordanians suffering from this sickness… the rest is just details.”

The minister noted that the novel virus has triggered an “unprecedented shock” across the world to both demand and supply, and that “there will be economic challenges”.

However, he said that the one lesson that Jordan has learned over time is that it is possible to overcome every challenge and come out stronger.

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