Tax protests force out Jordan’s prime minister

4 Jun 18

The prime minister of Jordan has resigned after days of protests against tax rises and austerity measures.

The protesters are opposing a new tax bill, backed by the International Monetary Fund, which critics claim will hurt the poor and middle class.

Hani Mulki, the prime minister, had refused to scrap the IMF-backed bill, saying it was up to parliament to decide whether to pass it or not.

The proposed law – which has not yet been approved by parliament – is aimed at bringing down public debt to 77% of GDP in 2021. It would increase taxes on the employed by at least 15% and on companies by between 20% and 40%.

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

The bill is the latest in a series of economic measures taken since the country secured a $723m three-year credit line from the IMF in 2016.

Jordan’s economy has been hit by regional turmoil and has struggled to grow in the last few years.

The country has been battered by the refugee crisis, the war in Syria and insecurity, but still managed to cut its public sector deficit by 3.3% between 2015 and 2016, the IMF found.

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