Head of Jordan flagship economic scheme resigns, developers short-listed

Published June 17th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Jordan has accepted the resignation of the head of the kingdom's flagship economic scheme as it forged ahead with plans to select a "strategic developer" for the low-tariff Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ), officials said Thursday, June 14. 


The resignation of ASEZ president Mohamed Kalaldeh, a former transport minister, was accepted by the cabinet on Tuesday, officials said without giving reasons for the move. 


They said however that Kalaldeh stepped down at his own request almost one year after taking the job to set in motion the ASEZ,which was officially inaugurated by King Abdullah II in mid-May. 


Kalaldeh's deputy Mohammad Balkar will fill in until a new ASEZ president is found, officials said as the press speculated he could be replaced by Tourism Minister Akil Biltaji. 


ASEZ commissioner for investments and economic development Imad Fakhuri meanwhile told AFP on Thursday that six international companies out of 13 had been "short-listed" to run and develop the zone. 


"We expect to select by mid-September a strategic developer from among six international companies which qualified out of 13 that bid for the job," Fakhouri said. 


The firms vying for the position include Hillwood Strategic Services, which belongs to a group run by US industrialist and former presidential candidate Ross Perot and Jabal Ali Free Zone International of the United Arab Emirates. 


The other bidders include the US-based firm Fluor Daniel, the British firms TCI Infrastructure Limited and Mersey, Docks and Harbours as well as the Greece-based Consolidated Contractors International, Fakhuri said. 


The winner will be selected on technical and marketing capabilities as well as the capacity to bring in investors and develop a zone that can bring in meaningful returns to the Jordanian economy. 


It will run and operate the development corporation with an initial capital of 150 million dollars and eventually open up to other local and international investors. 


Through the ASEZ, Jordan plans to transform Aqaba, its only port and outlet to the sea, into a major regional trade and tourism center that will attract six billion dollars in local and foreign investment by the year 2020. ― (AFP, Amman) 


© Agence France Presse 2001

© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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