Lawmakers debate draft budget, urge deficit curbs, more economic reforms

Amman: Lawmaker Monday urged curbing the deficit and achieving self-reliance as the Lower House debated the 2024 draft state budget for the fourth day in a row.

In today’s session chaired by Speaker Ahmad Safadi and attended by Prime Minister Bisher Khasawneh and the government team, MPs called on the present government and future governments to build a strong and independent economy with natural wealth and human resources.

“We take note of this budget’s aim to curb the burgeoning deficit in order to keep the ratio of public debt to GDP at last year’s limits of about 118 percent, or 88 percent excluding the Social Security debt,” said MP Fayza Adibat, the first to take the floor.

“It is true that these percentages are high, but curbing the growing public debt is a step in the right direction,” adding that the budget marks a 12% rise in capital expenditures, compared to the previous budget,” she said.

However, Adibat pointed to “the structural distortion in revenues and expenditures, like previous budgets,
as most of the revenues come fom taxes, and most of the expenditures are current expenditures and debt service. Therefore, it does not offer effective solutions to the challenges of high unemployment and low standard of living”, she pointed out.

She also urged the government to refrain from any future agreements with Israel and revisit previous agreements “in order to preserve the nation’s interest and stability.”

Addressing the chamber on behalf of the Parliamentary Justice Bloc, MP Mejhim Sqour stressed aid to farmers and called for easing accumulated debts on them, as well as directing municipalities to open up for investments and local development in cooperation with the private sector.

Referrind to “the tough time the region is experiencing,” Sqour said Jordan exerts maximum efforts to stop the bloodshed and genocide by the hardline Israeli government in Gaza, pointing to air drops by Royal Air Force aircraft to the Jordanian field hospitals in Gaza.

MP Mohammad Hilalat spoke about the economic chall
enge posed to the Kingdom, given the budget deficit it faced for many years and rising unemployment.

He expressed hope the government will pursue an economic correction program, especially after the Lower House passed a package of economic legislation, most notably the investment law and public-private partnership.

Source: Jordan News Agency