Charges of corruption and a bloated bureaucracy and criticism of the government’s privatisation are flying in the lower house of parliament as members debate the 6.8 billion dinar ($9.52 billion) draft budget for the year 2012.
MPs have also expressed doubt over some of the projections and figures related to economic growth levels and domestic revenues included in the draft budget.
They also questioned the government’s seriousness to address the country’s economic and financial woes. Some MPs have demanded a new tax law that adopts a progressive income taxation system that levies higher rates on wealthier individuals.
Abdullah Zreiqat, who spoke on behalf of 18 deputies representing the National Current Party, called for a reduction in the number of independent public entities from the current 62.
He said that some “influential powers” are preventing such a consolidation. Mohammad Maraayeh claimed corrupt former officials ]for the economic challenges in Jordan, and said that the privatisation of formerly state-owned firms in key sectors has deprived the state of major revenues.
Mubarak Twal agreed that the privatisation programme deprived the treasury of key revenue sources. He rejected the claim that the economic slowdown in Jordan was the result of problems in the global economy, insisting that corruption was to blame instead.
A majority of MPs urged budget planners not to increase current expenditures, they also demanded that the government open recruitment in its agencies.
Current expenditures are estimated to make up around 5.2 billion dinars of the 6.8-billion-dinar budget. Salaries of public sector employees and pensioners represent the largest share of the spending.
Mustafa Shneikat slammed the country’s economic reform approach over the past years, alleging that officials have created “two types of public sector”: one for the poor and another for the well-off, in a reference to the independent agencies. He charged that “all privatisation procedures were corrupt” and resulted in wasting the country’s major assets.
He said he favoured the progressive tax system. The assembly is expected to conclude debate on the draft budget and take a vote on Thursday.