ABU DHABI, Just like in the past, Gulf states once more proved that when friends and allies are in need, they will be the first to offer assistance. Early yesterday in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait offered US$2.5 billion (AED9.2 billion) in aid for Jordan to ease its economic crisis following a wave of anti-austerity protests. The aid package will include a deposit in the Central Bank of Jordan, guarantees to the World Bank on Jordan and annual support for the government’s budget for five years.
In an editorial today, Dubai-based Gulf News said, “The Gulf states’ solidarity with a fellow Arab state shows that a peaceful Jordan is critical to stability in the region. The GCC realises that a situation like the one that has wracked Jordan for the past few days can easily get out of hand, resulting in chaos and instability in a very sensitive part of the Arab world.
“The Gulf states are also alive to the fact that regional forces that wish to destabilise the Arab world, and groups that seek to spread sectarian discord, may take advantage of the economic crisis in the Hashemite kingdom.”
Jordan is in one of the toughest neighbourhoods in the world, sharing borders with war-torn countries like Syria and Iraq, the paper said, adding that “despite the enormous pressure from all sides, the country has stood out in the region as an island of stability. It is a country with a large youthful population, and without any real natural resources. But that has not stopped the country from opening its doors to 1.5 million Iraqi and Syrian refugees. However, Jordan’s generous approach towards refugees has badly strained its finances and stretched its resources so much that the welfare of its own citizens have been impacted.”
“The International Monetary Fund has pushed Jordan to launch austerity measures this year to rein in its burgeoning public debt. The country’s public debt is almost equal to its economic output, and unemployment is at a two-decade high. Like many other countries, Jordan also realised that painful economic reforms are unavoidable,” added the editorial comment.
With the World Bank also seeing “weak growth prospects” for the country, Jordan embarked on a three-year programme of economic measures that included a new tax law, the editorial explained. “It did not go down well the people who are already weighed down by one of the highest living costs in the region. A change of prime minister helped shelve the tax law and douse public anger,” it added.
“It is hoped that the funding from Gulf states will buy Jordan enough time to chart a course towards economic reform without burdening its population,” concluded the English-language daily.
Source: Emirates News Agency