The Jordanian government has decided against increases in the cost of essential items and public services which had been expected as part of the country's economic reforms, Wednesday's press reported.
"There will be no price increases this year," on basic products and public services, including petrol, water, electricity and communications," papers quoted Prime Minister Abdur-Rau’f Rawabdeh as saying.
The cost of living has soared over the last three years in Jordan, where independent estimates put unemployment at 27 per cent, and nearly 40 per cent of the 4.8 million population live under the poverty line.
Rawabdeh also said that the privatization process started in 1998 has "so far brought in 600 million dollars to the treasury," and stressed that the proceeds will not go towards paying off Jordan's foreign debt, estimated at seven billion dollars, but to job creation.
The country's cash reserves now stand at around 2.7 billion dollars, up from less than a billion in the first quarter of 1999, according to Finance Minister Michel Marto.
These figures are explained by a 34 percent increase this year over last in earnings from tourism, and a 6.1 percent rise in exports over the first two months of the current year, he told journalists after a cabinet meeting Tuesday evening.
Jordan's main exports are oil, phosphate and cement.
Marto also said it was "possible" that the rate of economic growth could reach 3.5 percent in the year 2000, against less than two percent last year.
The annual population increase is estimated at 3.3 percent -- AMMAN (AFP).
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