Jordanians to protest price hikes

Amr El Feki, Saturday 15 Jan 2011

A sit-in will be organised in front of Jordan's House of Representatives against increased prices and unemployment

Women hold signs
Women hold signs, with bread taped on them, demonstrate against the government in Amman (Photo: Reuters)

Jordanians will protest tomorrow, Sunday, at 4:00pm in front of the House of Representatives against high prices, the secretary of the Jordanian News Agency, Hala Al-Hadidi, told Ahram Online.

The protest is organised by the High Coordinating Committee for the parties of the national opposition and call for the resignation of the Prime minister, Samir Al-Refai, according to an opposition website, JFRA news.

This call comes despite government measures to curb prices.

Fuel costs remain almost constant as the government decrease of fuel prices offset the recent reduction of subsidies, added Al-Hadidi. On the other hand, the government succeeded in trimming the price of sugar.

The price of sugar doubled on the commodities exchange in 2010, while the price of rice has been highly volatile, which led the government add $224 million in the 2011 budget to subsidise bread, on which seven million people depend, according to The Guardian.

King Abdullah II has addressed the armed forces, which sell 85 different commodities to members as well as civilians through cooperative stores, requesting that prices be trimmed.

In addition, the government is preparing to inject $20 million in order to boost the economy and shrink unemployment, though nothing is yet confirmed, Al-Hadidi said.

Official unemployment is around 14 per cent in a country of six million people, 70 per cent of which are under 30. Some estimates put the figure at 30 per cent, while the minimum wage is $211 a month.

In May 2010, Jordan launched a $10 billion development project in the Red Sea port of Aqaba, the country's largest ever property and tourism venture, the official Petra News Agency reported. Critics say the measures are not enough, complaining of rising unemployment and poverty as inflation last month hit 6.1 per cent.

The International Monetary Fund expects Jordan`s economy to grow 4.25 per cent in 2011 with a budget deficit of 5.3 per cent of GDP.

Food prices are at their highest level since the 2008 food crisis, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Data shows that food prices (including cooking oil, meat and dairy products) jumped 25 per cent in December 2010 compared to the same period of the previous year.

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