Jordan's draft 2022 budget forecasts $15 bln in state spending

AMMAN, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Jordan's Finance Minister Mohamad Al Ississ said on Sunday that the draft 2022 budget forecasts 10.6 billion dinars ($15 billion) in state expenditure and paves the way for a rebound in growth to 2.7% after the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Al Ississ told a media briefing that Jordan had also last week successfully concluded the third review of a four-year programme of International Monetary Fund (IMF) backed reforms to help it restore fiscal prudence for a sustained recovery.

Al Ississ said that the government had increased its local revenues last year without raising taxes through a rare campaign to combat tax evasion and by a major restructuring of the tax and customs administration that ended exemptions.

It foresaw total revenues next year at 8.9 billion dinars, with 848 million in foreign grants.

Jordan’s economy was particularly hard hit last year by the shutdowns aimed at containing the virus, with unemployment at a record 24% amid the worst contraction in decades.

Inflation was, however, expected to rise to 2.5 % next year from a projected 1.6 % this year, Al Ississ said.

Most state expenditure goes on salaries and pensions in a country which has among the highest government spending relative to the size of its $45 billion economy.

The government has raised capital spending to 1.5 billion dinars, a 43% rise from the previous year to help spur growth and improve infrastructure to help attract more investment, the finance minister said

Jordan’s commitment to IMF reforms and investor confidence in the country’s improved outlook helped it to maintain stable sovereign ratings at a time when other emerging markets were being downgraded, Al Ississ said.

Al Ississ said debt servicing on 29.4 billion dinars of public debt would drop next year with a push to expand preferential loans and grants away from more expensive commercial lending.

($1-0.709 dinars)

Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi, Editing by Louise Heavens and Alexander Smith

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