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Press association urges members to pay dues by March 31

By Mohammad Ghazal - Mar 12,2015 - Last updated at Mar 12,2015

AMMAN — The Jordan Press Association (JPA) on Thursday urged members to settle fees they owe to the syndicate by the end of March or automatically lose their membership.

About 60 per cent of the 1,100 members have paid their dues, including annual membership fees and the pension fund payment, JPA Director Fakhri Abu Hamda told The Jordan Times on Thursday. 

Other JPA members have until March 31 to settle their dues, he said.

On Wednesday, several JPA members submitted a petition to the JPA council, asking it to allow members to pay outstanding dues, especially pension fund fees, in instalments.

They claimed that many journalists were unable to pay their fees due to difficult financial conditions, but the council rejected their petition.

“We turned down the petition, since under the JPA Law we don’t have any authority to intervene. We cannot violate the law at all. We have to enforce it,” JPA President Tareq Momani told The Jordan Times over the phone Thursday.

“We are sympathetic with the many colleagues going through difficult financial conditions, but we cannot but enforce the law,” Momani added.

Amendments to the JPA Law, which went into effect in mid-July 2014, stipulate that any member who does not settle all outstanding fees by March 31 of each year automatically loses membership.

“Even if a member owes the association JD1 and does not pay it before March 31, he or she will lose membership immediately and have to restart procedures to become a member. This is what the law says,” Momani added.

Members have two options to pay fees for the mandatory pension fund — an instalment each month or the entire amount at one time, he said, asking “colleagues not to keep delaying paying fees until they accumulate”.

Under the law, it is mandatory for journalists to subscribe to the fund, but they have the option to choose one of two categories.

The first category entails payments of JD10 per month for the first 10 years, JD15 per month for the second 10 years and JD20 monthly for the third 10 years. At the completion of the 30 years, a member would get a JD180 monthly pension.

Under the second category, a journalist can pay JD20 per month for the first 10 years, JD25 per month for the second decade and JD30 per month for the third 10 years. Subscribers in this category will get JD300 as a monthly pension upon the completion of 30 years. After the completion of the first 10 years, subscribers can ask for early pension and will receive a smaller amount of the total pension in each category.

Basel Okour, chief editor of news website, called for amending the provision that ends journalists’ memberships if they do not settle fees, saying it is “unfair”.

“Many colleagues in the profession, whether in print or online media, are going through difficult financial conditions. The JPA should be helping them, not collecting money from them,” Okour said.

“In other associations, if members do not settle fees every year, they are subject to fines or maybe banned from voting in syndicate elections, but they do not lose membership,” he added, charging that the JPA Law is “a conspiracy against the media”.

Omar Maharmeh, local news editor at Ad Dustour, called for amending the law, which he said is not “flexible”.

“The law is very strict I believe. I think JPA members should be given more time to be able to settle dues before they lose their membership. At other associations, they are given a grace period of two to three years,” Maharmeh noted.

“We need amendments that take the current conditions into account and are more flexible towards members. The JPA should push for such amendments,” he added.

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