Jordan parliament okays $3.7b budget

AMMAN - The Jordanian parliament has approved a provisional 2004 state budget of $3.738 billion for 2004, which represents a six per cent rise over last year, officials said yesterday.


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Published: Sat 21 Feb 2004, 12:29 PM

Last updated: Wed 1 Apr 2015, 11:55 PM

The budget, adopted on Thursday night, forecasts a $410 million deficit, which represents 3.9 per cent of gross domestic product. Economic growth is forecast at five per cent this year, up from 3,3 per cent in 2003.

The parliament approved the budget after days of heated debate over government spending, the Petra news agency reported. A majority of 77 out of 97 approved the budget Thursday night. It was rejected by 14 members of the Islamic Action Front and six independent deputies, including former Minister of Health Abdul-Rahim Malhas.

The vote came after four days of arguments over government expenditures. Lawmakers urged the government to cut down on expenses such as renovating official buildings, new furniture, conferences, banquets and official cars.

The new budget earmarks 2.133 billion dinar for current expenditures - a 7.3 per cent hike from last year's allocation - to accommodate a projected rise in civil servants' salaries and pensions. It envisages capital spending at 537 million dinar. The budget projects a deficit of 293 million dianr, or 3.9 per cent of the gross domestic product - within International Monetary Fund targets.

Local revenues are projected to be JOD1.825 billion, excluding JOD472 million in unspecified foreign aid set to help plug the gap to reduce the deficit.

The US - Jordan's largest aid donor - allocated $464 million in aid for the year 2004. Lawmakers had also argued over the government's insistence on raising the prices of fuel and taxes, a proposal rejected last month by a parliamentary majority, who said such a move would be a burden on Jordanians.

The government had planned to raise the prices in a bid to curb the growing budget deficit, higher costs of oil imports and the loss of a 300 million dinar Iraqi oil grant since the U.S.-led war on Iraq.

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