Gulf states pledge $2.5b to support Jordan

Evarado Alatorre
Junio 13, 2018

Saudi Arabia says it will host a meeting among several Gulf Arab countries to offer support to Jordan after it faced mass protests over the kingdom's economic problems and its plans to tax its citizens.

The package of aid will include a deposit in the Central Bank of Jordan, guarantees to the World Bank on Jordan and annual support for the budget of the Jordanian government for five years, according to a statement posted on the state-run Saudi Press Agency website.

Mass protests against price rises and a proposed tax hike have rocked Jordan in recent days.

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The U.S. this year committed to give Jordan more than $6 billion in aid over the next five years, up from $1 billion annually. This year, regional contributions have largely dried up and the International Monetary Fund is pushing it to take austerity measures.

Protests engulfed the cash-strapped country earlier this month after the government announced a fuel prices rise of up to 5.5 percent and a 19 percent hike in electricity prices.

The financing of highways, hospitals and ageing infrastructure by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates had indirectly relieved pressure on the kingdom by reducing the need for large capital spending, another official said.

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Saudi King Salman had called the rulers of the three other nations to set up the meeting in the holy city of Mecca, with speculation that an aid package could be announced.

The move came a day after European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced $23.5 million (20 million euros) in aid for Jordan following a wave of anti-austerity protests that led to the prime minister's resignation.

Cash-strapped Jordan, a close U.S. ally that relies heavily on donors, is struggling to curb its debt after securing a $723-million loan from the International Monetary Fund in 2016.

Jordanian Prime Minister Hani Mulki was forced to resign as a result of protests, with King Abdullah II appointing Education Minister Omar al-Razzaz to form a new government.

Jordan blames its economic woes on instability rocking the region and the burden of hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from war-torn Syria, complaining it has not received enough worldwide support.

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