The Budget Bill: Rest Unassured…

By Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Wed 18 January / Jan 2017. 01:00 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

Once more, the government will successfully pass its Budget Bill intact, save for some very minor changes introduced by the House of Representatives, which do not at all entail any structural reform to the constructs of the Public Balance Sheet.

In the end, the government will still collect an additional JOD450 million to allocate for further unhealthy expenditure. Despite the MPs efforts, especially the Speaker and several other members of the House, to provide the government with a multitude of alternatives that would suffice keeping the government away from the pockets of Jordanians.

The Representative effort over the last few weeks, bringing 11 suggestions and alternatives to the table; ones that do not affect Jordanians directly, included custom and plate fees for every vehicle not registered under a Jordanian platelet number; increasing residence fees for foreigners and residents; collecting a monthly JOD1.00 for every cellular phone; in addition to amendments to the foreign labour licensing systems and fees, and prefacing investment opportunities for Gazans living abroad, as well as allowing residences over 5 years in Jordan to own real-estate at a limited space spec, conditioning no citizenship status.

At this point, Dr Hani Mulqi’s government has already overcome the Budget “Crisis”, and the House would have helped the government defuse the house gas bomb, next to all the other bombs that have to do with raising prices on fuels by JOD0.007 per litre, and the unification of sales tax at 16 per cent for different commodities, as well as the annulment of exemptions. All that, and we have no guarantee, whatsoever, that the government is going to refrain from further policies which reflect so badly on the quality of life for limited and medium income segments of society.

As a result, the 2017 Budget Bill stands despite all its flaws; as catastrophic as Budgets go! It first and foremost did not even come close to resolving the deeper economic problems, and hence it has set us nowhere on the path to recovery.

Another thing exposing the myopic view behind the Budget, and its obsolete typicality, is it’s the figures; they indicate the government —as is— has prefaced further reinterring polices for the years 2018 and 2019, to collect more public revenue; that is of course if they remain in office. This is particularly obvious in light of the unoptimistic expectations on “Foreign Aid”, which is receding, according to the figures themselves.

As for the Local Revenues section, the government states —according to the Bill— in the Budget Summary, Table 6, as well as in the details for revenues, table 8, that the government intends to collect JOD900 million more in 2018, and over a billion in 2019, on and on until it reaches JOD9.3 billion.

One would say: these are only indicative numbers, no more. And that would be true, for figures are not definite.

What is definite, though, is that Mulqi’s government has not begun real reforms, neither have they given up on the concepts of reinterring, even while planning for our future.

Although figures are mute, but we can accordingly rest unassured that the government in office will not evade us the calamities of financial crises; it does no effort to fortify our economy against the fundamental challenges storming it.

In the 2017 Budget Bill, the most evident pattern is a procrastination of issues, most superficially, and I’m trying not to say “evading responsibility”. It is obvious through, that we are not out of the bottleneck, instead; it’s closing in.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.