|Upward SSC investments |
o The Social Security Corp (SSC) has investments of JD 100 million in the Aqaba Special Economic Zone. Mzahim Muhaisen, minister of labor and SSC’s chairman, said the corporation’s investments in ASEZ are in tourism, industry and services. With more than JD 1.7 billion in assets, the SSC is discussing plans to expand locally and abroad. Muhaisen asked the government last week to approve the SSC plan to use up 12 percent of its gross assets in international investments. If this happens, the corporation will have some JD 200 million in world markets. According to SSC sources, the corporation is thinking of further investing in some of the world best financial markets and in international blue-chip companies.
o About $47 million of Swiss and Italian debts to Jordan were rescheduled last week. These debts are part of the $72 million and $39 million Italy and Switzerland made to the Kingdom respectively. Finance Minister Michel Marto said debt rescheduling aims at easing the financial burden and sustaining the government strive to lessen the repercussions of Iraq war on the economy. Jordan’s foreign debt is $7.5 billion. The Kingdom signed agreements with France, Germany, Britain, Spain, Austria, Belgium and the United States to reschedule debts worth $987 million. Marto said more agreements are expected soon as part of Jordan’s earlier understandings with the Paris Club in late 2002.
o Government tenders in the first 15 weeks of this year were JD 40.3 million. More than half of these bids were made in the water sector at JD 22.2 million. The rest was allotted to transport, health and others. These tenders are expected to double to over JD 85 million by the end of June. The government is expected to start soon with the development project of the Queen Alia International Airport Highway at JD 20 million. The project aims at extending the highway lanes to six.
o The Housing Bank for Trade and Finance earned last year JD 22 million in profits, equaling 2001. HBTF’s assets increased in 2002 by 3.5 percent to JD 1.77 billion. Meanwhile, the 2002 profits for the Union Bank for Savings and Investment worth JD 3.2 million, increasing by 71 percent over 2001. The bank’s assets also increased last year by 21.3 percent to JD 371.4 million. The same goes for the Arab Banking Corporation (ABC) which earned JD 3.7 million in profits last year.
Land and Survey
o The Land and Survey Dept., earned JD 90 million last year, from land sales and university dues. Sources at the department indicated this year’s earnings are expected to fetch JD 100 million due to the increase in land sales. The increase is also expected in the department expenditures estimated at JD 6.5 million. Last year’s expenses were JD 6 million. The Land and Survey Dept will extend its operations this year to cover the rest of the Kingdom, including surveying of unexamined lands in the Badia and southern governorates. These lands make 75 percent of the Kingdom’s area.
Potash’s profits slope
o Arab Potash Co (APC) profits in 2002 declined by half to JD 15.4 million in comparison to 2001. This was attributed to the company’s earlier takeover of the Al Safi Salt Co last year. APC also endured a 3.2 percent loss in its revenues to JD 144.7 million. The company produced last year two million tons of fertilizers and minerals. The government has recently launched talks to privatize the company by selling half of its shares in it. APC’s Chairman, Issa Ayyoub, said the privatization process is expected to be completed by the end of this year.