Motorists on Saturday said a sudden round of fuel price hikes would strain their already tight finances.
Late Friday, authorities decided to raise the price of 90-octane gasoline from JD0.70 per litre to JD0.77, a 10 per cent rise, and the price of diesel from JD0.515 per litre to JD0.550. The price of 95-octane gas, which used to be sold at JD1 per litre, also went up by 1.5 per cent or 15 fils.
Friday’s announcement was the third instance of price increases in the past three months.
On May 27, the government raised the price of 95-octane gas from JD0.795 to JD1, and on June 12, the price of the cheaper 90-octane fuel rose to JD0.70 from JD0.62.
Motorists greeted Friday’s price hike as an unpleasant surprise, while experts and political activists criticised the move as untimely and harmful to average people who are already struggling with rising costs of living.
Government officials were not available for comment.
Mohammad Ibrahim, a private sector employee, told The Jordan Times on Saturday that he was shocked at the price hike, saying fuel was already too expensive.
“It seems to me that the government doesn’t care about the people. Its only concern is to fix its finances from citizens’ pockets,” Ibrahim added while filling up at an Amman gas station.
Another motorist, Muhannad Ismail, said the government should have taken into account the “uneasy” economic and political conditions in the Kingdom.
Political and economic analyst Zayyan Zawaneh said both the government and citizens were “in a dilemma”, noting that consecutive governments have failed to offer a decent public transportation system, which means that people will continue to drive their cars to work even though it is costly because there is no other alternative.
Zawaneh, a former adviser at the International Monetary Fund and the Ministry of Finance, recommended that authorities should work to secure other channels of revenue, such as raising tax rates on large firms and adopting the progressive income tax regime.
“The government should immediately start drawing up a comprehensive and practical public transportation plan to be ready within 10 years so citizens can feel it is doing something for them,” he added.
MP Anwar Ajarmeh, rapporteur of the Lower House Financial and Economic Committee, told The Jordan Times that the government did not consult the House prior to Friday’s decision.
“We knew nothing about the decision, but we will discuss it with the finance minister [Suleiman Hafez],” Ajarmeh said, warning that the latest hike will affect average Jordanians.