IMF, Jordan to discuss Syrian refugees next year

WASHINGTON Wed Dec 26, 2012 10:25am EST

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WASHINGTON Dec 26 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund said it will talk with Jordanian officials early next year about a complete economic program, including how to deal with the huge influx of Syrian refugees into the country.

The Middle East kingdom received a $2 billion IMF stand-by loan earlier this year to help deal with the effects of high oil prices and political unrest in neighboring countries.

An influx of 240,000 refugees from the Syrian conflict next door has further strained the resources of Jordan, a country of 7 million that has almost no oil and little water.

"The program (next year) will include specific policy measures that would help Jordan to reach its program objectives and address the key challenges it faces, including the large inflow of Syrian refugees," Kristina Kostial, the IMF mission chief for Jordan, said in a statement after visiting Jordan.

The IMF approved the loan in July under the condition that Jordan reform its public sector and reduce subsidies, including electricity tariffs.

Jordan's decision in November to cut subsidies on most fuel products sparked violent protests and calls for the end of the monarchy. But Jordan has so far been spared the revolts toppling long-seated rulers elsewhere in the Arab world.

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