Jordan slashes taxes to ease economic burden

January 11, 2011 22:43


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AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan slashed taxes on fuel and foodstuffs Tuesday to ease the country's economic burden as global food prices rise.

It's believed that concern over deadly riots caused by joblessness and poor prospects for youths in Algeria and Tunisia might have helped spur the government move.

The announcement came days after popular labor activist Mohammed Sneid called for nationwide protests on Friday against rising fuel and foodstuff prices and a soaring inflation, which rose by 1.5 percent to 6.1 percent last month.

Jordan's ruler, King Abdullah II, ordered immediate steps to help the poor. He said late Monday that basic goods should be available at the lowest possible prices.

Jordan has been tackling a record budget deficit of $2.1 billion, high unemployment and poverty among its 6 million people, the majority of whom are under the age of 25.

Finance Minister Mohammed Abu-Hammour said the steps will "help the poor and middle class cope as global food prices rise."

But Sneid said the moves were "insufficient." He said he was "going ahead with our peaceful protest as scheduled."

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