November 4, 2019 / 4:40 PM / a month ago

Jordan government resigns ahead of a reshuffle: state media

FILE PHOTO: Jordan's Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz speaks to the media during a news conference in Amman, Jordan April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed/File Photo

AMMAN (Reuters) - Jordan’s cabinet on Monday resigned ahead of a government reshuffle expected in the next few days, the state news agency said.

Officials say the reshuffle will solidify Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz’s mandate to accelerate economic reforms, seen as crucial to spur growth in the debt-ridden country.

Razzaz was quoted by Petra state news agency as saying the move was needed “to face up to the challenges of the coming period”.

It was not clear how extensive the reshuffle would be but an official said it would not affect key portfolios, but focus on merging some ministries to cut waste and curb expenditure.

Under an IMF austerity plan, Jordan must rein in spending to cut spiraling debt that stands at around $40 billion, equivalent to around 95 percent of gross domestic product.

Several government moves in recent months to raise the salaries of teachers and army retirees, while government revenues are falling, has further strained state coffers.

King Abdullah appointed Razzaz in the summer of 2018 to defuse the biggest protests in years over tax hikes pushed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to reduce Jordan’s large public debt.

Razzaz has sought to revive confidence in a country where many blame successive governments for failing to deliver on pledges to revive growth, which is stuck at around 2 percent, cut waste and curb corruption.

Jordan’s economy has also been hit by regional conflict, which has weighed on investor sentiment.

Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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