Saudis host four-nation meeting over Jordan crisis

Elias Hubbard
June 13, 2018

The price of fuel has risen on five occasions since the beginning of the year.

Saudi Arabia and two Persian Gulf nations pledged $2.5 billion to help support Jordan's economy after a proposed income-tax increase sparked days of widespread protests.

Thousands of Jordanians hurt by price hikes took to the streets last week against the government's International Monetary Fund mandated economic policies.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, has met with King Abdullah II of Jordan, at Al Diyafa Palace in Makkah, on the sidelines of the quartet meeting, to discuss means of supporting Jordan.

The rare peaceful protests prompted King Abdullah to sack the government and appoint a new prime minister whose first pledge was to reverse plans was to shelve steep tax hikes.

The EU has provided Jordan with €1 billion in aid over three years, Mogherini said.

He landed in the Red Sea city of Jeddah ahead of his meeting later Sunday with leaders of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, the official Saudi Press Agency said.

Responding to mass anti-austerity protests held in Jordan, a number of Gulf States have offered the kingdom $2.5 billion to help it overcome an economic crisis.

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.

Separately on Sunday, the European Union's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, visited Jordan and announced €20 million for social protection programs for vulnerable Jordanians.

Cash-strapped Jordan, a close USA 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.

The authorities on Thursday announced they were withdrawing the unpopular legislation, but still face a mammoth task to balance popular demands with the need to reduce the public debt burden.

Jordan attributes its economic malaise on regional instability and the influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees from war-torn Syria.

The World Bank says Jordan has "weak growth prospects" this year, while 18.5% of the working-age population is unemployed.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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