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Jordan’s draft 2021 budget sees $14 bln expenditure, 2.5 percent growth

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Jordan’s draft 2021 budget forecasts 9.93 billion dinars ($14 bln) in state expenditure and paves the way for a rebound in growth to 2.5 percent after the coronavirus pandemic caused the worst contraction in decades, the finance minister said on Monday.

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Mohamad Al Ississ told Reuters the cabinet had approved a budget that would accelerate IMF-backed reforms to help the kingdom restore fiscal prudence for a sustained recovery.

He said the budget would continue major fiscal reforms, including continuing an aggressive tax evasion campaign that has netted this year hundreds of millions of dinars for the country’s strained state finances.

“Despite the unprecedented challenges, fiscal stability remains our priority,” he said.

Jordan’s economy is expected to shrink by more than 5.5 percent this year, the sharpest contraction in two decades. Before the pandemic struck, the IMF had estimated economic growth of 2 percent.

The government has given a priority to cushioning the pandemic’s impact on the poor by expanding a social safety net that has already given support to least 2.5 million people, more than a third of the country’s citizens, Al Ississ said.

It will help ease the pain of the pandemic that has pushed unemployment to a record 23 percent, Al Ississ said.

Although the kingdom has been more dependent than other regional economies on hard hit sectors such as tourism and remittances, its commitment to a four-year IMF-backed $1.3 bln program that began this year has helped it maintain strong external financing from major Western donors.

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