(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh on Sunday stressed that the government has started setting up a comprehensive national programme for economic reform to maintain economic stability in the Kingdom.
The programme, which seeks to reach 3-4.5 per cent economic growth, will be implemented over five years period, Tarwaneh indicated during a meeting with representatives of the Kingdom's economic sector at the Royal Cultural Centre.
Tarawneh stressed that the programme will be binding on future governments with specific ceilings on the budget deficit that cannot be exceeded.
He said the programme will be implemented in cooperation with international parties, and pointed to the rising demand on the Jordanian dinar.
The premier underlined the government's keenness to continue dialogue with all economic sectors in the country regarding various local issues.
Noting that the Parliament's next extraordinary session will be held after Eid Al Fitr and will continue until the end of September, Tarawneh said the session will discuss legislations and draft laws related to Jordan's economy.
Finance Minister Suleiman Hafez said the national programme for economic reform seeks to address the imbalances in the national economy, particularly Jordan's budget deficit and high indebtedness.
"The programme has helped Jordan in obtaining a soft loan from the International Monetary Fund at low interest, which will contribute in supporting the Central Bank of Jordan's foreign currencies," Hafez said.
He indicated that the programme seeks to reduce the budget deficit after grants from 6.5 per cent this year to 3 per cent by the end of the progarmme. Excluding the grants the rate will drop from 10.7 per cent in 2012 to 4.5 per cent.
Energy Minister Alaa Batayneh described the 4.7 per cent annual growth rate of demand for electric power as disturbing and high compared with advanced countries which adopt methods to rationalise power consumption.
Planning and International Cooperation Minister Jaffar Hassan spoke about the 400 million support provided to small- and medium-sized enterprises across the Kingdom in the forms of grants and loans.
Industry and Trade Minister Shabib Ammari presented a briefing on the governorates fund, which was ordered by his Majesty King Abdullah last year to finance development plans designed for the country's governorates.
He noted that the Cabinet will discuss the new investment law on Tuesday.
Jordan Businessmen Association (JBA) President Hamdi Tabbaa stressed that government should inform the private sector on the details of the national programme for economic reform and to study the competitiveness of the country's economic sectors, particularly industry and services.
He stressed the importance of finding solutions to the Kingdom's energy crisis, suggesting the possibility of electrical connection with Saudi Arabia, to secure third of Jordan's energy needs, at preferential prices.
Amman Chamber of Industry President Hatem Halawani said Jordan's industrial sector is still growing but needs the care and attention of the government, noting that trade agreements signed by the Kingdom with international economic blocs need to be reviewed.
Jordan Chamber of Commerce President Nael Kabariti called on the government to reconsider articles 5,17 and 19 of the Landlords and Tenants Law, highlighting the need not to raise customs duties on garments.
Hafez on Saturday said the government has no intention to raise the customs duties on garments imported into the Kingdom.
The minister said he believed the current tariff is fair and gives a preferential advantage to local products.
Recently, several local industrialists have been asking the ministry to raise the customs imposed on imported garments as a means to support the local industry. Hafez also pointed out that keeping the customs tarrif on imported garments unchanged seeks to keep the prices of the locally-made garment sector products stable so that citizens can buy their needs at appropriate prices.