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IMF’s short visit — nothing to say

Oct 08,2017 - Last updated at Oct 08,2017

At the invitation of the IMF staff, several Jordanian journalists met high-ranking IMF official Jihad Azour to get the picture as seen by the IMF mission.

The journalists were disappointed because the IMF official did not say anything new. He did not mention what his staff did during the planned visit, yet he spoke for long, but in general terms and in a noncommittal manner.

Azour told the audience that an economic benefit will accrue to Jordan following the opening of the Iraqi border, a notice that is well known and taken for granted, and has nothing to do with the IMF-supervised programme.

The IMF official said what is most needed in Jordan is economic stability, a very vague statement that may mean good management of the budget under high internal and external debt.

The head of the IMF mission to Jordan, a lower-ranking official, called for the amendment of the tax law in a way to widen the tax base by reaching more taxpayers.

He also demanded the removal of tax exemptions granted to certain groups. 

He may have meant exemptions enjoyed by strong groups that are able to take part in the tax-collecting effort.

To be nice, he suggested devoting certain amounts for social purposes and to support the poor.

Aside from the above, the IMF official said nothing about the budget deficit or the movement of debt during the first nine months of this year.

He roughly estimated debt to be around 95 per cent of the gross domestic product.

As a hunch, and without supporting data, one can come up with the impression that the IMF is not happy with the way the reform programme has been conducted so far.

The IMF is expected to issue a statement showing what it did and its impressions about the programme, and progress, if any.

In general, the IMF is supposed to express a preliminary opinion on whether things are going in the right direction, as the government has been repeatedly saying.

The IMF will again present its latest predictions for economic growth in 2017. 

 

The latest projected rate was 2.7 per cent, which is better than the previous expectations. It is on the high side if growth in the first half of the year, when it did not exceed 2 per cent.

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