Media & Communication Directorate
Royal Hashemite Court (Jordan)
Elections will be held on time - King
Amman, 3 December 2012
His Majesty King Abdullah on Monday stressed that parliamentary elections will be held as scheduled on January 23 to “crown Jordan’s reform endeavour.”
“The upcoming elections crown the reform process, and they will be held on time,” King Abdullah said.
Chairing part of the Cabinet session, King Abdullah called on the government to enable the Independent Elections Commission (IEC) to do its work transparently and fairly. “Our political priority is the upcoming parliamentary elections on January 23, and I invite everyone to participate.”
His Majesty added that “even though some are trying to interfere with the roadmap, we are still moving in the right direction.”
During the meeting, the King stressed that government decisions to protect Jordan’s economy in the long-term need to be accompanied by sound plans to protect Jordanians in the short-term. Both measures are necessary, especially that the government is doing its best to overcome the challenges “we all are facing.”
During the Cabinet meeting, the King urged the government to adopt a package of effective policies and procedures that would help Jordan survive a financial crisis and protect citizens from its consequences.
His Majesty also urged the government to develop its support mechanisms to be as fair as possible and to be responsive to people’s complaints.
The King also pointed to the need to apply tangible measures that would ensure control on the prices of goods to protect Jordanians from high costs of living. “Control on prices must be tight, to enable us to protect Jordanians during this period,” His Majesty said.
His Majesty also pointed to the need for intensifying employment programmes by supporting the Governorates Development Fund (GDF) and similar projects to expedite implementation of the first batch of development projects.
The King urged ministers to continue communicating with the people and “go out to the field to have a first-hand look at their conditions and address their needs.”
His Majesty was positive on the future, saying that “we will overcome this stage by consolidating our efforts and our front.”
“The situation is very tough,” the King said, but voiced optimism over support for the Kingdom from “our brothers” and the potential to improve Jordan’s economy.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said the government took various measures to control expenditures and increase government revenues.
He said the government decreased allocations for governmental institutions and operational costs by 15 per cent, and decreased capital spending by around 10 per cent.
The premier added that regarding energy-saving measures, the government unified summer and winter times, and maintained only six main roads lit until midnight.
He also mentioned that the government waived all conditions on the “Decent Housing for a Decent Living” project, to allow the largest number of Jordanians to benefit from it.
Ensour noted that the GDF has received JD3 million already, and will be receiving around JD15 million before the end of this year.
The premier also highlighted the Cabinet’s decision to postpone municipal elections, which were supposed to be held before 15 March 2013, so as not to coincide with parliamentary elections. Municipal elections will be held by September 2013, he said.
Ensour noted that the government has prepared 24 draft laws, including legislation on illicit gains and consumers protection. He said the government is also studying the civil retirement system and the possibility of preparing a more comprehensive system that clarifies retirement procedures for all members of the three state branches.
The premier underlined the issue of Syrian refugees, and the cost the government has incurred due to their increasing numbers, estimated now at 250,000. He pointed to a new refugee camp project, Al Halabat camp, and said that its first phase is almost completed.
The prime minister also reiterated the government’s support for the IEC and the Constitutional Court.
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance Suleiman Hafez said his ministry has reached 97 per cent of those who qualify for government support, referring to a government decision to provide JD70 in annual direct cash support to each person in any household that earns less than JD800 a month to replace the lifted fuel subsidies.
Hafez said Thursday was the last day for those interested in government support to submit their applications, pointing out that around 3.25 million private sector employees already applied.
He also detailed the most salient features of the 2013 budget, in which the deficit is narrowed and capital spending is increased by JD500 million.
Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources and Minister of Transport Alaa Batayneh talked about the new power generation plant, pointing to the fact that Jordanian energy consumption growth stands at seven per cent annually, one of the highest percentages in the world.
Batayneh said the government has decided to increase generation capability by 145 megawatts, at a cost of around JD71 million. He pointed out that the government has allocated around JD210 million to renewable energy projects, and tenders will be floated next year.
Also during the meeting, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Minister of Education Wajih Owais said that JD25 million were allocated for 40,000 needy university students, adding that student admission policies are being reviewed, to reduce exceptions and ensure just treatment for all.
Minister of Public Sector Development Khleef Khawaldeh said the government policy on employment in senior positions has already been set to ensure fair and equal opportunity.
Khawaldeh highlighted the mergers planned within the government’s restructuring scheme to cut government spending.
Minister of Public Works and Housing Yahya Kisbi illustrated the 21km airport road project, which will cost around JD90 million, while Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications and Minister of Culture Samih Maaytah said the ministry is committed to implementing the national media strategy. Maaytah was confident that official media coverage of the elections will be up to expectations.
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Minister of Water and Irrigation Mahir Abul Samin briefed the King on the Red-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Project’s first phase, which will start with an experimental 70 million cubic feet of water capacity.
Abdul Samin also spoke of the expansion of the Samra Wastewater Treatment Plant in Zarqa, to increase its capacity from 267,000 cubic metres per day to 364,800 cubic metres per day.
Abul Samin said 90 per cent of the construction in the Disi Water Conveyance Project was completed, and it was expected that the project will pump water into Amman in the upcoming summer. The total cost of the project has reached JD950 million, he noted.
Minister of Industry and Trade and Minister of Information and Communications Technology Hatem Halawani said the ministry’s priority is to maintain price stability.
He said that ministry’s daily research shows that 65 per cent of basic goods have maintained their prices, while prices of other goods, like seasonal fruits and vegetables have increased.
Halawani said the ministry, in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, is working to provide sufficient quantities in the market to maintain current prices.
He also said the GDF is expected to fund 15 projects around the Kingdom before the end of this year.
Also during the meeting, Minister of Political Development and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Bassam Haddadin said his ministry was working on various initiatives to encourage electoral participation.
For his part, Minister of Labour Nidal Katamine highlighted the ministry’s plans in vocational training. He said that the main goal is to gradually replace guest labourers with Jordanian workers.