Jordan’s PM briefs businessmen on economic situation
Prime Minister Ali Abul Ragheb said Jordan is negotiating with Iran and Libya to finance the long-awaited Disi water project, which will offer the Kingdom an additional 100 million cubic meters water every year. C
The premier said that further meetings between Jordanian and Libyan officials are expected to take place “soon” to discuss the feasibility studies of the project. Since Jordan is suffering from water shortage, the Disi project is seen as highly strategic. Libyan leader Muamar Qadhafi on several occasions pledged that his country will finance the project, which will transport water from the southern region to the capital and nearby areas.
During the Monday meeting with the businessmen, Abul Ragheb blamed the private sector for failing to take the initiative and invest in the Aqaba Special Economic zone (SEZ). The premier said that many foreign investors have expressed their willingness to invest in Aqaba and submitted proposals in that regard. He did not elaborate. Earlier this year, the Parliament approved the establishment of the Aqaba SEZ, which will have its own customs rules.
Abul Ragheb said that foreign and domestic investments in Jordan this year amounted to 800 million Jordanian dinars, a 70 percent increase, compared to 1999 figures. He indicated that the reasons behind this increase were the amendment of a set of economic laws this year and endorsement of the Aqaba SEZ.
Abul Ragheb said that Jordan Phosphate Mines Company is suffering from serious problems and said certain measures will be taken to assist it. He said that among the measures that will be taken are recapitalization of some of the JD350 million debt of the company and the privatization of some of the firm's activities like the production and transposition sectors. Half year result of the JPMC, once the Kingdom's major foreign currency earner, indicated that the company has incurred JD58 million in losses.
The premier said that the increase in the price of oil in Jordan will affect mainly gasoline and will not affect the price of kerosene and diesel. Abul Ragheb said that the increase in prices will be made in a way that will not harm the consumers. He did not elaborate. Last week, the government said that it will increase gasoline prices in Jordan to reduce the deficit in the 2001 budget following the renewal of the oil protocol between Jordan and Iraq.
The agreement between the two sides stipulated that Jordan will have to pay $21 for each barrel it imports from its eastern neighbor, up from $19 in the year 2000. — ( Jordan Times )
By Tareq Ayyoub
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)