|* The government has spent $564 million of the $997.2 million earned from privatization efforts over the last six years. Ali Qandah, senior financier at the Central Bank of Jordan, said some 55 percent of privatization revenues were used to repay foreign and local debt. |
He criticized the government for using these revenues so exclusively for debt rather than using them toward local investments.
Qandah several proposals, among which is the idea of establishing a special fund to manage these revenues through development projects in remote and rural areas. Qandah believes the privatization program has failed thus far to develop the capital market in Jordan. Most of the remainder of these revenues-estimated at $300 million-are expected to go toward the socio-economic transformation program.
* At present approximately JD 130 million of the budgeted JD 240 million socio-economic fund have been utilized in the development of local municipalities. Prime Minister Ali Abul Ragheb said the money was being spent on rehabilitation projects around the Kingdom. Abul Ragheb indicated the government would begin these types of projects in all local municipalities in Jordan next year.
* Assets at the Central Bank of Jordan are estimated at JD 5 billion. About two-third of these assets are kept in gold and foreign currencies. Assets were valued at JD 1.16 billion in July. CBJ liabilities are estimated at JD 4.8 billion, about half of which are local.
* The first half of 2002 brought a 57 percent increase in Jordan Cement Factories Co profits, worth a reported JD 17 million. Company's exports declined this year by 23 percent though, largely due to political instability in the occupied territories. About JD 7 million of company resources are employed in rehabilitation projects to enhance the quality of exports. This money will also be used to improve the environmental impact of company products.
* Jordan's seven Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZs) are currently host to more than 52 projects worth an estimated JD 220 million. Most of these projects are textile and garment manufacturing. Don Hague, expert at the Europe-Jordan Action for Development of Enterprise, noted these projects largely operate at low levels of efficiency, with many employing too high a ratio of foreign workers to the existent machines. He said foreign labor is increasing due to a lack of well-trained Jordanian labor. Hague stressed a need for an efficient training system to improve the current recruitment process in the QIZs.
* Public-owned universities are receiving JD 53 million in aid for academic year 2002-2003. About JD 32 million of the money is public subsidization of academic facility development. The remaining JD 21 million is divided between the development university infrastructure. There are eight public universities operating in Jordan, with more than 600,000 students enrolled in them.
* A consortium of Egyptian companies will build a gas pipeline through Jordan to Syria. The choice was made by the government as part of a partnership arrangement with Egypt to begin construction of the $250 million project by the end of the year. The planned pipeline will begin in Aqaba and end in Rihab village on the Syrian-Jordanian border.
Annually 10 billion cubic meters of gas will be transferred from Egypt through the pipeline to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Statistics show the Kingdom will require 2.5 billion cubic meters of gas per year by 2010. Jordan will receive the first of these gas supplies in March 2003 for power generation at Aqaba. Officially, these supplies will not be available until 2005.
* The Ministry of Health soon issue new health insurance cards for the underprivileged in Jordan. These cards will be free-of-charge, intended to help those living in remote areas that cannot afford health insurance costs and subsequently man medical services. Beneficiaries will be primarily in the governorates of Aqaba, Ma'an, Kerak, Mafraq and Irbid. All beneficiaries were chosen through the Ministry of Social Development and the National Aid Fund.
The Star redaction