The Lower House of Jordan Parliament has passed the General Budget Law for the fiscal year 2023 on Wednesday. The bill was passed during an evening session chaired by House Speaker Ahmed Safadi, with the Prime Minister, Bisher Al-Khasawneh, and the ministerial body in attendance, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra.
How many members of Jordan Parliament were present
Out of the 107 Lower House members present, 86 voted in favor of the general budget bill, and the body also approved the recommendations of the Finance Committee related to the budget. The bill was discussed during six sessions held over three days, during which 90 out of 130 MPs spoke, including representatives from six parliamentary blocs.
MPs criticized the budget’s reliance on taxes, aid, and loans, calling for solutions to address the economic crisis facing the Kingdom and alleviate the difficult economic situation experienced by Jordanian citizens. The rising poverty and unemployment rates, which are constantly increasing among young people, represent a difficult economic situation for citizens, they said.
MPs also criticized the level of services provided to citizens, resulting from weak economic growth, high public debt interest rates, and the continued budget deficit. They called for the implementation of an executive plan to achieve progress in economic growth that reflects on the citizen and addresses the imbalance in the budget.
MPs called on the government to make further efforts to combat corruption and waste of public funds in all forms and to hold accountable anyone proven to be involved in corruption cases. They also urged the necessity to utilize and invest natural resources to face the Kingdom’s economic conditions, attract investments and expand incentives, and to review the operational costs of economic sectors to enhance productivity and enable them to compete.
On the other hand, the MPs praised the efforts made by His Majesty King Abdullah on internal and external levels, despite the political events, conflicts, and wars taking place in the region and the world. They expressed their pride in the Jordanian position towards the issues of the Kingdom, including the Palestinian cause, and their support for the Hashemite custodianship over Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.
The budget expects the deficit to remain at 16 percent of spending but fall to 2.9 percent of gross domestic product, compared with 3.4 percent last year. Revenue is also expected to rise by 8 percent to 9.6 billion dinars, because of more money from taxes, stipulated by a fiscal program agreed upon with the International Monetary Fund.
Passing of the budget is mostly procedural in Jordan. Of the 103 parliamentarians present at the session on Wednesday, 86 voted in favor of passing the budget. The budget expects economic growth to remain at 2.7 percent and inflation at 4 percent, similar to last year. Most state expenditure went on salaries and pensions. The kingdom has one of the highest public debts relative to the size of its $45 billion economy. The latest World Bank data shows Jordan’s public debt stood at 114 percent of GDP at the end of 2021. The organization had forecast a similar figure in 2022, and 115.2 percent of GDP for 2023.
Image Credit: Jordan Parliament official