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French Version

Jordan hikes fuel prices to beat huge deficit

Jordan raised the price of fuel by up to one third as part of a plan to reduce subsidies that have exacerbated a huge budget deficit. During a special Cabinet meeting the government also decided to raise the minimum wage and low-end state salaries in an apparent bid to lessen the impact of the price increases, the state run Petra news agency reported over the weekend.

The price increase is the third since the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, which previously supplied Jordan with all its oil needs.

As of Saturday, prices went up by 10 to 33 percent, covering everything from petrol to diesel, kerosene and domestic gas cylinders.

Pro-reform Prime Minister Adnan Badran announced the price hike in June.

"Although the decision will not be popular it is inevitable because we cannot achieve economic reform while the budget suffers from a huge deficit and soaring oil prices," Badran said in a statement last month.

Jordan expects a record budget deficit of 950 million dinars ($1.3 billion) this year, Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Moasher said.

Moasher blamed the expected deficit on the difference in the cost of a barrel of oil which is calculated at $42 per barrel while the price per barrel on the international market has risen to $59.

Moasher also noted that Arab oil aid to Jordan - namely from oil-rich Saudi Arabia - dropped this year from $1.41 billion to $634.5 million.

As regular supplies were cut off with the outbreak of war in Iraq, Jordan turned to the oil-producing giants in the Gulf - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates - striking a deal to receive 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

Oil grants received from Kuwait and the Emirates in 2003 were not renewed in 2004.

Amman,19July2005
Redaction
The Daily Star


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