Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour on Saturday said the government’s decision to lift fuel subsidies was inevitable, adding: had not it been taken at the right time, the alternative would be even worse on the national economy.
Ensour told a meeting with world news agencies correspondents that the decision or any other measures cannot solve Jordan’s financial crisis on the short term.
“Everyone must realize that the decision to lift fuel subsidies could not be postponed until the parliamentary elections and if we waited until then, it will have dire consequences on the Jordanian economy and the damage would be much bigger on citizens,” the prime minister said.
The Premier noted that the decision should have been taken two years ago and if it had been taken at that time, the budget deficit would not have arrived at this stage. He said he understands why governments did not take that decision because of the Arab Spring.
Ensour pointed out that the budget deficit and public debt have exceeded all safe limits. The prime minister explained that the cut in Egyptian gas supplies further exacerbated the economic crisis with more than JD1.7 billion losses inflicted upon the National Electric Power Company because of switching to diesel and heavy fuel to generate electricity.
He added that the government was subsidizing fuel with JD800 million and is still subsidizing gas cylinder which is currently sold at JD10 while its real cost is JD12.
Ensour said that the Kingdom buys most of its oil needs from Saudi Arabia at international market prices, noting that no financial assistance came from Arab Gulf nations this year except a $250-million Kuwaiti deposit at the central bank allocated for development-oriented projects and not for the state treasury or for subsidizing oil prices.
He added that the government will not back down on its decision as it counts on the Jordanian people’s understanding of the reason that forced such decision.
The Prime Minister emphasized that the national priorities are to safeguard security and stability, address the economic crisis, and maintain good relations with neighboring countries and non-interference in the internal affairs of any other country.
Responding to a question on the forthcoming parliamentary elections, Ensour said the vote will be held on time.
He said most of yesterday’s protests were peaceful and civilized and that security agencies understand people’s passions and their right to peaceful expression of opinion.
The Prime Minister stressed that the decision is a mere economic measure and that the leadership and other state’s bodies have nothing to do with it.