Better Now than Later!

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Mon 11 September / Sep 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Fahed Khitan

The government is trying hard to contain the public anger over the suggested amendments to income tax law.

At the beginning, it seemed as though the ministerial team was surprised by the leak.

Rightly so, these amendments were not yet discussed in Parliament or by the respective committees, nor were they addressed by the Cabinet.

As a result, the public’s reaction was overwhelmingly explosive and quick. It blew up in their faces before they were able to do anything.

The debate on these amendments spread like wildfire. So much that the government were beginning to worry about the future of the amendments themselves.

Typically, the only official to step into the fire, in an attempt to calm the public was Media Minister Mohammad Momani.

He tried his best to sooth the public’s explosiveness, but he was alone in his endeavours.

It was beyond his control, alone.

The situation required of the government’s economic divisions to step in to the ring with the Minister, instead of leaving him out there to dry.

Come Monday, the Prime Minister, Hani Mulqi, took advantage of the Jordan Strategy Forum (JSF) to launch a dialogue on taxation policies.

The premier made some important statements during the Forum’s session, trying to sooth the middle class.

He pledged that the upcoming amendments will not affect the lower and fixed income segments of the society, nor the Middle Class.

More so, Mulqi promised to advance more decisive measures to counter tax evasion.

Of course, the Forum’s experts gave the premier a piece of their minds.

They gave him numerous suggestions which would help revitalise the economy without increase tax burdens on citizens.

As he listened, the premier exhibited impressive openness to all of citizens’ suggestions for alternatives. Ones which would save an already tax-exhausted citizenry further distortion!

As tense as these last few days were, despite the social and popular discontent and anger against the government, they were in themselves an opportunity.

This is when experts and specialists can come forward with their alternative propositions, so long as they are realistic, to help attain budget criteria with minimum tax excisions.

We know that the government is under immense pressure.

In just a few days, the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s team will arrive in Amman to review the government’s propositions.

By then, the government must be decided on how they plan to fulfil the terms of the agreement with the IMF.

Needless to say, this requires rapid intervention and an integrated effort to put together a bundle of alternatives which could also attain target GDP growth rates for next year as well. Not to mention reducing public debt, in accordance to the plan, in order control the deficit.

Undoubtedly, this ongoing, heated national debate platforms a reasonable setting for a bunch of new practical ideas.

That aside, we must pressure the IMF to be more flexible.

In these regards, we are hoping the upcoming top officials’ visit from Washington, later this month, could help secure the backing of the US.

This way, we can to push for amendments to the agreement with the IMF.

For now, nonetheless, it is vital that all respective parties of the government maintain a positive, constructive engagement with the public opinion and experts.

The government must seize every opportunity it has to prevent the imposition of more taxes on citizens.

Moreover, this would be the best chance for the government to make unprecedented, bold strides in the spheres of countering tax evasion.

Obviously, had the government initiated this dialogue earlier this year we would have had more time to formulate feasible alternatives.

Still, it’s better now than later!

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