Transport minister expected to head key investment project
Jordanian Transport Minister Mohammed al-Kalaldeh is expected to be named soon head of the Aqaba "special economic zone, a project through which the government hopes to attract billions of dollars in investment, a senior official said Tuesday.
Kalaldeh's nomination is expected to take place in the next few days after he resigns his post and replacement has been found to head the transport ministry, the official told AFP.
Jordan is pinning high hopes on its decision to set up a "special economic zone" in the Red Sea port city of Aqaba which is one of the top priorities in the programme of Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb.
The project calls for the launch in 2001 of a low-tax economic zone to attract six $billion from tourism, information technology firms, industry, commerce and services, create 70,000 jobs and help double per capita income by 2020.
In July the Jordanian cabinet approved the plan and passed a law that stipulates strict curbs on the sale of land in the southern port, Jordan's only outlet to the sea which shares borders with Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Under the amendments, the sale of land in Aqaba will depend on the "principle of reciprocity" with the country of origin of potential investors -- thus effectively ruling out Israel which bans land sales to foreigners.
Critics have said it would turn Aqaba into a self-rule haven for money-launderers, smugglers and moral corruption, as well as undermine national sovereignty and open the door to Israeli land grabs. Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994. - (AFP)
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