|Annual rise in fuel price |
* The government unveiled plans to raise the prices of fuel products within the coming five years by 60 percent from the present level at a rate of 12 percent per annum. Cooking gas would sell at JD 5.2 per canister, while regular-grade fuel would sell at JD 10.5, super-grade fuel at JD 14 per 20-liter, and unleaded fuel at JD 15.5 respectively by 2010.
More ‘Free Trade Estates’
* Investments in Jordan’s 30 free trade estates increased in 2004 by 25 percent to JD 1.4 billion, according to Ali Madadha, director general of the Free Trade Estates Corp. Of the 30 estates, 25 are private while the other five are open for investments to all. Madadha said there are five more estates under construction and would start operation later this year. The volume of trade for the free trade estates last year totaled JD 2.16 billion, compared to JD 1.48 billion in 2003. Madadha added that “transit trade” of goods between Jordan and neighboring countries reached more than $6 billion, 70 percent of which targets Iraq.
Meat monopoly causes strike
* A group of 40 butchers held a strike in Amman on Sunday and closed their shops in protest at the rising prices they are asked to pay for red meat products. The butchers said their businesses have been suffering for weeks and they refuse to reopen their shops unless the prices are brought down. The butchers accused some import companies of monopolizing the trade of red meat in Jordan and of “fixing unjust prices” and urged the government to intervene and put an end to the irregularities in the red meat market. They also complained of a 30 percent decline in their sales since the beginning of February, as lamb in Amman cost JD 3.5, up from JD 2 two months ago. Some of the big stores that usually trade in red meat shut their doors last week in protest at the high meat prices. Local meat importers attributed the rise to high import costs from world meat markets, mainly Australia.
Agricultural exports expand regionally
* Jordan’s agricultural exports grew last year to more than 530,000 tons, up 27.1 percent over 2003. Ninety-eight percent of these exports went to the Arab countries, such as: Syria, 153,000 tons; the UAE, 133,000 tons; Kuwait, 60,000 tons; and Iraq, 44,000 tons. Tomatoes, eggplants and cucumbers constituted the bulk of these exports.
Fastlink’s profits mount
* Jordan’s leading GSM operator, Fastlink, expanded its customer-base by 22 percent to more than 1.14 million, while revenues rose by 17 percent. Net profits rose by 34 percent in 2004, compared to 2003. Fastlink CEO Mohammad Saqer said customers were “the main driving force for increased work, progress and success.” The company, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, is expected to witness further emergence of newer services in tune with the latest GSM technologies.
MEC doubles profits
* The Middle East Complex for Engineering and Electronic Industries (MEC) made last year JD 5.1 million in net profits compared to JD 2.7 million in 2003, with pre-tax profits at JD 5.7 million. The MEC’s sales also increased in 2004 by 52 percent to JD 70.2 million. Most of the company’s exports were directed to Middle Eastern and African countries.