Jordan has secured a low interest, long-term loan from Japan worth 110 million dinars ($156 million) to finance development projects listed in the kingdom’s government budget for the year 2012, top officials have announced. Since 1974, Japan has provided Jordan with around 2.8 billion dinars ($4 billion) in official development assistance in various fields such as water, environment, health, education and vocational training, according to official figures.
Minister of Planning and International Co-operation Jafar Hassan and Japanese Ambassador to Jordan Junichi Kosuge on Tuesday signed an agreement governing the loan.
The country is implementing many projects for community prosperity for current and future residents, business and visitors.
The loan will finance human resource development and social infrastructure improvement projects in Jordan.
The loan carries a 0.95 per cent interest and is repayable in 20 years, including a six-year grace period. Hassan told reporters that the government’s policy is to secure soft loans or low-cost borrowing to finance the deficit in the budget to reduce borrowing from local banks which is costly. Kosuge said it was the first time in 13 years Japan has extended such a soft loan to Jordan, which facing financial problemds due to the repeated interruption of natural gas supplies from Egypt and the need to assist Syrian refugees.
The loan will be channelled through Japan’s International Co-operation Agency and will be used to finance development projects in vocational training, higher education and medical institutions in impoverished areas, the ambassador said.
He said it usually takes time to decide on the provision of a soft loan but due to the financial situation in Jordan, the loan agreement was concluded in an exceptional short time. Hassan said that 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the loan will be used this year and that Japanese support has enabled Jordan to implement a large number of projects over the past decades. Hassan also said Jordan and international organisations will soon launch a joint appeal to donor countries to help tens of thousands of Syrians who fled the violence in Syria.
The assistance is required to improve and expand services provided to Syrian refugees, the majority of whom are located in the northern part of Jordan, he said.
Jordan is hosting more than 150,000 Syrians, most of them living in temporary residences in the border town of Ramtha, or with relatives or friends elsewhere in the north.
Jordan, in cooperation with UN refugee agency, has opened a refugee camp for Syrians in the Zaatari area, 15 kilometres from the northern city of Mafraq. The Zaatari camp hosts around 5,200 refugees.
Jordan and the UN refugee agency say limited resources and the continuous influx of refugees hamper their ability to cope with the crisis.