Jordan King's call for tax review fails to quell protests

Erika Holt
June 8, 2018

A government official close to the king, stated that, "Prime Minister Hani Mulki submitted his resignation to the king this afternoon during a meeting at the Husseiniya Palace and the king accepted the resignation".

The government's priority, His Majesty said, is to stimulate economic growth, enhance the country's competitiveness and create jobs for the youth.

Last month, the government proposed a new income tax law, yet to be approved by parliament, aimed at raising taxes on employees by at least five percent and on companies by between 20 and 40 percent, reported AFP. Razzaz, a former World Bank economist, was education minister in the outgoing government.

Jordanians have taken to the streets of the country's capital an several other cities to protest an IMF-backed draft income tax law and price hikes.

Jordan, a key USA ally, has largely avoided the unrest witnessed by other countries in the region since the Arab Spring revolts broke out in 2011, although protests did flare late that year after the government cut fuel subsidies. Until Mulki's government, the lifting of bread subsidies and tax changes have been pushed back repeatedly.

He also said political parties, unions and civil society groups must take part in the talks.

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Protesters had pressed on overnight, with hundreds rallying amid tight security in the capital though turnout appeared lower than for the past few nights.

"We don't want a change of names, we want a change in policy", one banner read.

Demonstrators hold up signs in front of Jordanian policemen during a protest near the prime minister's office in Amman, Jordan, on June 6, 2018.

Policemen secure the main road near the prime minister's office during a protest in Amman, Jordan. The king blames economic problems on regional instability and Syrian refugees. The official unemployment rate has risen above 18 percent, and it's believed to be double that among young Jordanians. His appointment still sends a message to foreign donors that Jordan will press ahead with reforms, though in a gradual way, they said.

The embattled Mulki, who had led the push for the unpopular austerity measures, resigned following several days of mass protests across Jordan against the tax plan, the latest in a series of economic reforms sought by the International Monetary Fund to get the rising public debt under control.

The government has said it needs funds for public services and argues the reforms will reduce social disparities by placing a heavier burden on high earners.

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