Jordan’s PM designate Abdullah Ensour presented over the weekend a new 19-member government, the 77th in the country's history and the thirteenth since King Abdullah II ascended to the throne, Ad-dustour daily reported. The king approved the line-up. Ensour will also act as defence minister. The new government includes four 'old' ministers from the outgoing cabinet, nine first-time ministers, and five who have served in previous governments. The four ‘old’ ministers are Nasser Judeh (foreign affairs), Hatem Halawani (industry, trade, supply and ICT), Khleef Al Khawaldeh (public sector development) and Nidal Katamine (labour).
Positive news is the appointment of former CBJ governor Umayyah Toukan as finance minister. The latter had enjoyed high public support for his transparent, anti-corruption and open-market policies during his mandate. He is also seen as a stabilising factor at a time Jordan faces major political and economic challenges. Toukan spent ten years as governor and was a strong supporter of Jordan's long-held dinar-dollar peg and currency stabilisation policy. Government officials say the FX policy has sustained monetary stability, boosted exports, increased FX reserves and generated FDI. Besides implementing needed political reforms, the new government's main task will be to streamline spending in order to cut the budget deficit.
Jordan's new government will increase electricity charges by a likely 14% in June instead of April in order to curb the budget deficit and cut the losses of The National Electric Power Company (NEPCO), according to earlier reports. The price hike is being discussed with the IMF as part of the recently announced USD 2.06bn three-year Stand By Agreement. The expected electricity price increase is part of a strategy drafted by NEPCO to hike charges by 40% between 2013 and 2017. Jordan will soon receive a USD 500mn IMF loan that constitutes the second and the third tranche of the USD 2.06bn three-year Stand By Agreement approved in 2012.
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