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Economy still strong, resilient — Mulki

PM reiterates commitment to economic reform, says Kingdom has weathered worse conditions

By JT - Jan 28,2017 - Last updated at Jan 28,2017

Hani Mulki

AMMAN — Prime Minister Hani Mulki on Friday said that the current economic situation in Jordan is not the most difficult when compared to previous periods, such as the crisis of 1989, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported. 

The economy is still strong and resilient despite the effects of the so-called “Arab Spring” since 2011, the global economic crisis, border closures and hosting Syrian refugees, Mulki said. 

However, the premier said the government seeks to increase growth rates and improve productivity, while fighting tax evasion, nepotism and corruption.

In an interview with Jordan Television’s “60 Minutes”, Mulki asserted that the Jordanian dinar is stable, which is backed by currency reserves worth JD12 billion and gold worth JD1 billion — enough to cover the Kingdom’s imports for seven months.

The state budget of 2017 will address all challenges, in particular reducing the public debt, the premier said, noting that this year’s current expenditures, excluding JD360 million in unpaid dues in the health and construction sectors, have increased by 1.6 per cent in comparison to 8 per cent last year.

Mulki said that this shows the effect of the government’s measures to cut spending.

Capital expenditures have been increased by 12. 3 per cent, compared to 6. 3 per cent in 2016, which is because the government is seeking to activate the economy, not collect money from the public, the premier said.

Mulki noted that he will assign the finance minister to ensure that no other officials receive higher salaries than that of ministers (JD3,000 monthly).

He said all government employees will have to justify using public vehicles after working hours except for secretaries general.

The prime minister said the government has revised the pricing lists of food items seven times to ensure excluding any basic commodity from tax increases.

To address poverty and unemployment, Mulki said his Cabinet has shifted priority from employment to self-employment, with projects to support youths to start their own businesses, as the public sector is not able to absorb more employees.

This year, the government has allocated JD80 million for the self-employment programme which started last year with JD25 million, Mulki said, adding that unemployment figures are not accurate as they include many expatriates who are registered with the Civil Services Bureau.

The Cabinet has amended by-laws related to the construction sector, compelling contractors to employ local workers, the premier said.

Regarding the prices of bread, the premier claimed the government will come up with a mechanism to exclude people with low-income from a possible price hike.

Mulki commended Jordan’s relations with the Gulf countries, noting that the Treasury still have JD325 from the Gulf grant, and next year the government can request a renewal of the support.

As for political reform, he said the second phase of reform will commence after eight or nine months with the governorate and municipal council elections.

The last Cabinet reshuffle was not the result of a crisis with the Lower House, he stressed, but to bring new expertise into the team.

The Arab summit, which will be held in Amman in late March, was supposed to be hosted by Yemen, and Jordan was informed last December that Yemen is unable to host it for security reasons, Mulki said, noting that usually the summit needs one year of preparation.

He said that the regional situation is changing and countries are seeking a common ground to resolve conflicts and resume pan-Arab cooperation.

When asked about his political approach, the premier said he is liberal when it comes to investments, but conservative when it comes to looking out to citizens’ best interests.


When dealing with political, social and economic dimensions, one should have more than one approach to find creative solutions, the prime minister added. 

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