It sure is difficult, but it is not impossible; we can find alternative solutions to these catastrophic decisions the government announced, rattling the public, in order to collect JOD450 million from the pockets of Jordanians, the less fortunate of us, mind you.
Thusfar, the government has had the chance to go back on everything they suggested, due to the terrifying implications their suggestion would incur on the quality of life in Jordan; now that the King has redirected the government to review the proposed bills and consider first and foremost the welfare of the lower income segments of society.
On their part, the Cabinet’s proposals convey one dangerous message; that they are secluded from the reality of our world and are clueless to the strife of people.
More so, since public expenditure cannot be reduced in equivalence to the new amount the government hopes to attain from raising revenues, to put an end to the whole thing, it would be all in all beneficial to consider solutions that do not exclusively affect middle and limited income classes.
For example, the government could impose a fee of one Jordanian Dinar on every cell phone and internet contract leased by non-Jordanians, and the same for every Jordanian who has more than one telephone. This would secure some of the aspired savings, and it may even reflect positively on the consumption patterns our governments have always been complaining about.
Another example would be tax reforms. Which would include subduing all merchants to register in the tax system, as opposed to the registered 30 thousand, which is nothing compared to the size of the commercial sector.
Additionally, the ceiling on registration for other sectors, as well, should be decreased; like service and industrial sectors, in order to include all taxable commercial activities and businesses.
Even though a major part of the revenue from taxable activities is collected via the final-consumers in the form of sales and other taxes, fact is a scalable and feasible amount is not being delivered to the treasury.
Last but not least, the most important challenge when it comes to reforming taxation administration, is addressing tax evasion.
This is not solely the responsibility of the Tax administration, but the state as a whole, for it stands as the foremost test to reinforcing the Rule of Law.
Massive sectors are evading taxations, and governments have failed, one after the other, in dealing with it; we all still remember the story of the doctor —one of many— whose household has seen hundreds of millions of Dinars, and not a single penny was paid in taxes!
There are so many ways to bring together JOD450 million without resorting to sucking citizens dry.
The government can raise residency taxes and labour permit fees for foreign workers, especially now as we address the deformities of the labour market and the problems of importing foreign labour. No harm comes from raising labour permit fees JOD10 instead of raising the fees for renewing Jordanian passports.
That said, what is so wrong with imposing sales tax on real estates leased for commercial —not residential— purposes? This would, no matter how marginally, contribute to the allocating part of the desired increase in revenue; without incurring further weight on owners and tenants, so long as it is reasonable/
Another proposal dreaded by so many for reasons inexplicable, would be to allow Gazans temporary passport bearers to own real estate; even though many of them actually do, but would have to register their properties under a Jordanian citizen’s name, usually a relative.
Among the irrational justifications is the fear of Palestinian resettlement. And honestly, it is the equivalent of hiding our heads in the sand.
Truth is, amending property laws does not only mean more revenue, but it would attract capital, some of which would be invested by segments of the demographic to settle in Jordan.
The ways to raise revenue are endless and many. But this isn’t the core problem, it is much deeper! Look out for my next article.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.