Jordan PM resigns after tax protests, new leader appointed

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Amman, June 4 (IANS) Jordanian King Abdullah II on Monday appointed former Education Minister Omar Razzaz as the new Prime Minister after the resignation of Hani Mulki from the top post following nationwide protests.

Embattled Prime Minister Mulki submitted resignation to King Abdullah II after major protests were held across the country, with tens of thousands of demonstrators calling for the sacking of the government over a controversial income tax reform bill, Xinhua news agency reported.

Demonstrators demanded the withdrawal of the income tax law, part of several fiscal reforms as part of a $700 million extended fund facility programme signed between Jordan and the International Monetary Fund in 2016.

The bill mainly aims to improve tax collection, curb tax evasion and boost tax revenues, which are expected to increase by 300 million Jordanian dinars ($423 million) annually.

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In addition, the proportion of income taxpayers in Jordan is expected to rise from 4.5 per cent to 10 per cent once the bill is enacted. The legislation has been resisted by multiple sectors, including professional associations and investors.

Earlier in the day, 57 lawmakers out of the 130-seat Lower House of the Jordanian Parliament signed a letter asking the country’s king to fire Mulki. They said the policies of Mulki had pushed “the country to explode”, referring to last week’s unprecedented general strike.

“This government no longer has our confidence,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter, signed by the National Alliance for Reform, led by the Islamic Action Front, the political wing of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood.

On Sunday, protesters took to the streets for a fourth consecutive day, despite the government reversing a decision to raise fuel and electricity prices.

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–IANSthe

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