Jordan, June 2, 2018
Jordan's King Abdullah Orders Freeze of Fuel Price Hikes

Following protests, Jordan's King Abdullah II ordered the government on Friday to freeze new price hikes on fuel and electricity, officials said.

Late Thursday and early Friday, hundreds of Jordanians demonstrated in Amman and other cities in protest against the hike.

That came after the government decreed rises of up to 5.5 percent on fuels and a 19 percent hike in electricity prices, as well as laying out plans for a new income tax.

But early Friday, the king ordered the government to shelve hikes set to take effect that day as the country observed the holy month of Ramadan, official Petra news agency said.

Prices have steadily risen in Jordan over recent years as the government pushes reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund.

The country has a public debt of some $35 billion (30 billion euros), equivalent to 90 percent of its gross domestic product.

In 2016, it secured a $723-million three-year credit line from the IMF to support economic and financial reforms and was told it must drop subsidies and raise taxes to meet conditions for future loans.

Earlier this year, Jordan as much as doubled bread prices after dropping subsidies on the staple, as well as hiking value-added taxes on several goods including cigarettes.

The price of fuel has risen on five occasions since the beginning of the year, while electricity bills have shot up 55 percent since February.

aawsat