(Jordan Times ) — Despite the sluggish pace of economic growth, a number of indicators, mainly in the last year, show that Jordan's economy has made progress, according to Mohammad Abu Hammour, the secretary general of the Finance Ministry.
Speaking at a seminar on “The Economic Adjustment Program and Its Impact on Jordan's Economy,” Abu Hammour noted that the local economy was on the right track, and was expected to achieve a growth rate exceeding three percent by the end of the year.
“Despite the decline in the agricultural sector and the barriers to regional trade, the national economy saw growth of 1.6 percent at current prices during the 1999 period,” Abu Hammour said in his presentation on the most recent economic adjustment program, which covers the period 1999-2002. He also said that the government's financial policies had successfully lowered the trade deficit from 10.7 percent to 7.7 percent between 1998 and 1999.
The secretary general also noted that the program had achieved a drop in internal debt to a three-digit figure in 1999 against the over JD1 billion registered by the end of 1998.
“The decrease is mainly due to the government's repayment of a previous debt of JD119 million to the Central Bank of Jordan,” he told the over 50 people attending the presentation.
Regarding Jordan's monetary policy, Abu Hammour said that measures implemented last year had had a positive impact in terms of re-establishing trust in the Jordanian dinar and increasing the demand for the local currency.
Abu Hammour also reviewed a number of measures concerning foreign trade, including reducing customs fees on imported industrial inputs and vehicles, as well as granting full exemptions on computers.
On top of these achievements, Abu Hammour pointed to Jordan's membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), which took effect as of this April, and the package of legislation that was amended as part of its accession to the global trade body.
As for privatization, the secretary general said the government had been successful in selling part of its shares in a number of enterprises, such as the Jordan Cement Factories and Jordan Telecom, as well as leasing the Jordan Railway Company, Ma'in Spa and the management of Amman's water system.
He said the government was also finalizing the necessary legislation for transforming Aqaba into a Special Economic Zone. During the seminar, which was organized by the Jordan Development Center, Abu Hammour also expressed contentment with the accomplishments of Jordan's first economic adjustment program, which was adopted in 1989 in cooperation with the IMF and the World Bank.
“The program had a positive impact on the economy by leading to a gradual rise in economic growth rates, containing inflation within reasonable levels, and enhancing the Kingdom's foreign reserves, in addition to reducing the deficit and foreign debt,” said Abu Hammour.
By Rana Awwad
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )