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French Version

Business Scene

JORDAN (Star) - * France Telecom will increase its shares of Jordan Telecom Co by 3 percent later this year. The move follows a government decision to put up 10 percent of its shares on the market in October.

Finance Minister Michel Marto said earlier the government wants to sell 15 percent of its JTC shares to the private sector. The government owns 52 percent of JTC, while France Telecom (part of a consortium with Arab Bank) owns 40 percent. If the deal goes ahead it would give France Telecom a majority on JTC's board of directors. The company suffered a 23 percent decline in profits in 2001, some JD 46 million, but still earned JD 309.2 million in 2001. The company enjoys exclusivity in providing fixed lines and Internet infrastructure until December 2004.

* The Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) is working on different projects in East Amman estimated at JD 45 million. These include rehabilitating existing infrastructure and building new public facilities. A new JD 7 million housing project is being discussed at the municipality to build 4000 units for low-income families. GAM is expected to earn JD 6 million from taxes out of the JD 71 million Amman's inhabitants will pay to the municipality this year.

* The Ministry of Water is allocating JD 10 million for the rehabilitation of the Jerash water network. This comes in addition to projects worth JD 3.5 million that the ministry is working on to improve water infrastructure in Jerash. The Minister of Water, Hazem Al Nasser, said the ministry is planning to increase water investment to JD 2 billion by 2010. These investments target water networks and reservoirs around the Kingdom.

* Jordan's national carrier, Royal Jordanian continues to look for better strategic partners to strengthen its international network. Samer Majali, RJ's CEO, said the carrier intends to establish a strong marketing alliance to increase its competitiveness in world markets. The carrier will receive new planes, Airbus 340's, in the coming months to enhance services in the region. RJ is expected to suffer a 3 percent loss from its JD 250 million operational costs, expected to be JD 7.5 million.

* The Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority approved the establishment of five commercial centers worth JD 140 million. These "malls" in the zone will be built by local investors on 180,000 square meters. The authority also approved the building of a branch of the American University at a cost of $175 million on the southern coast of Aqaba. In the first quarter of 2002 the authority earned JD 2 million from sales tax. It expects that number to reach JD 8 million by the end of this year.

* About 36,000 tourists visited Petra this year, a third of which originated from Arab countries. These tourists contributed $375,000 to the local economy. In the first four months of last year revenues of visitors to Petra were more than JD 1.2 million. The Ministry of Tourism is launching a program to assist hotels and restaurants in Petra to overcome losses and offset sluggishness in Jordan's tourism sector. Part of the program is to reschedule the debts of Petra's hotels.

* A new factory for producing biotic gas is currently in operations in the Russeifeh area. The $4 million factory built two years ago produces gas from organic waste, which it receives from shops and restaurants in the area. It consumes around 40 tons of waste per day. The factory was funded by the UN Development Program, the Global Environment Fund and the Danish government.

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