Jordan to scrap income tax bill following protests | Middle East| News and analysis of events in the Arab world | DW | 07.06.2018
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Middle East

Jordan to scrap income tax bill following protests

Jordan has discarded a controversial income tax bill that sparked angry protests in the country. The measure was the debt-riddled country's latest attempt to fix its economic crisis.

Jordan's new Prime Minister Omar Razzaz announced a controversial income tax bill would be withdrawn on Thursday, following more than a week of protests over the measure.

The legislation, backed by the International Monetary Fund, would have increased taxes on employees by at least 5 percent and on companies by between 20 and 40 percent.

Read more: Jordan's middle class revolt

Crowds of people protested over the past eight days, demanding that the government drop the reforms.

Razzaz, who was appointed by King Abdullah II after his predecessor quit over the protests on Monday, announced that an "agreement had been struck" to withdraw the bill following talks with legislators.

He said the legislation would be sent back by the parliament to the government once a new cabinet had been formed, which is expected to take several days.

King Abdullah II ordered Razzaz to complete a "comprehensive review" of the tax proposals after the country experienced days of angry protests.

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New tax system won't 'trample on citizens' rights'

Razzaz said on Thursday that he would hold "broad consultations with civic bodies over a new tax system that will not trample on citizens' rights".

The most recent protests began when unions called for nationwide demonstrations.

"As unions, we've done our duty," said the head of Jordan's trade unions council, Ali Abous, after a meeting with Razzaz. "The meeting was very positive and we felt a change in attitude," he said.

Read more: The Syrian war's astronomical cost

The tax bill was the most recent austerity measure put in place to curb national debt since Jordan secured a $723-million (€612-million) loan from the IMF in 2016.

Jordan has blamed its economic crisis on instability in the region and the burden of hosting hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees with inadequate international support.

Since January, the country has seen numerous price rises for staples such as bread, as well as extra taxes on basic goods.

Fuel prices have risen five times since the start of the year, while electricity bills have increased by 55 percent since February.

law/bw (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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