Jordan raises energy prices to tackle gap

Jordan raises energy prices to tackle gap

AMMAN - Agence France-Presse
Jordan raises energy prices to tackle gap

Jordanians hold posters of King Abdullah during a rally in Amman May 26. Thousands took to the streets in support of Abdullah on Jordan’s 66th Independence Day. REUTERS photo

Cash-strapped Jordan yesterday raised the prices of petrol and electricity to offset a $3 billion deficit in this year’s $9.6 billion budget.

Minister of Trade and Industry Shabib Ammari increased the price of premium petrol by around 25 percent, state-run Petra news agency reported, adding that the prices of kerosene, fuel oil, diesel and other derivatives have been also hiked.

The government also decided to increase electricity tariffs for banks and hotels as well as mining and telecommunication companies, Petra said without elaborating.

Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh, who won a vote of confidence in parliament on Thursday, has said the hikes were part of austerity measures, expected to bring in $425 million to state coffers.

He has warned the country’s overall debt could reach $24.6 billion by the end of this year.

Opposition Islamists have warned the measures are “very dangerous” and likely to stoke political instability.

“We reject imposing more and more burdens on Jordanians,” said the powerful Islamic Action Front, the political arm of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood.

“The government instead should restore stolen money and find an effective way to cut its own spending.” More than 1,000 demonstrators marked Jordan’s 1949 independence from British rule on Friday rejecting government plans to hike commodity prices and taxes.

Jordan has witnessed regular street protests since January last year demanding sweeping reforms and tough action against corruption.