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PM warns against populist policies

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AMMAN (JT) - Prime Minister Samir Rifai on Monday said that the government will continue with procedures to further mitigate the burdens on citizens, but warned against populist policies that will be paid for by future generations.
Reiterating that there will be no new taxes this year, the premier said his government will work to secure “an educational environment that prepares young Jordanians for job opportunities”.
In a live interview on Radio Jordan, the premier acknowledged that the Kingdom is witnessing economic difficulties and inflation that reflect the current global crisis, as the Kingdom has to “import oil and food along with inflation”, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.
He added that the government has inherited a huge debt and an unprecedented deficit, making it a priority to take decisions that ease citizens’ burdens but at the same time make sure no “extra burdens” are passed on to coming generations.
Rifai pointed out a 3.5 per cent growth in the real gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010, with the deficit in this year’s current account expected to reach 5 per cent of the GDP in 2011. He said these figures indicate that the Kingdom’s economy is recovering.
“There are price hikes, and, yes, it is the government’s duty to alleviate the economic hardship on citizens, but Jordan imports most of its needs of oil and food,” he noted, adding that raising prices is not a Cabinet decision but “a global situation that we are trying to cope with”.
“We are a country that has been adopting a market economy for decades,” Rifai added, according to Petra.
“There is no government that doesn’t want to raise salaries and provide job opportunities for all Jordanians, but the main problem lies in finding enough money to finance all that,” he said.
“Are we willing to take the easy way out today and burden our children with that problem saying that ‘let someone else deal with it’?” he asked.
Asked how the government secured JD167 million to fund the recently announced economic relief package, Rifai stressed that the budget is transparent and has no “hidden funds”. The package is a result of a reshuffling in the budget’s priorities, he explained.
On corruption, he noted that it plagues every nation, but talking about it and shouting slogans without confirmed information creates disarray. Nevertheless, “corruption does exist and it must be fought”, he said.

18 January 2011
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