By Ala’ Alrababa’h (Twitter: @a_alrababah)
The Jordanian Parliament is currently debating the 2013 budget. The most controversial part of the discussion deals with reducing electricity subsidies. Essentially, the government plans to increase electricity rates on households by an average of 15 percent. To do so, it would lift subsidies on households that consume more than 601 kilowatts (kW) and industries with more than 10,000 kW per month.
Jordanian MPs have vehemently opposed plans for hikes in electricity prices. When the cabinet addressed the Lower House of the Parliament on lifting electricity subsidies, only 40 deputies (out of a total of 150) attended, and half those withdrew at the beginning of the session. One Deputy, Kholoud Khatatbeh, accused the government of trying to “manipulate the MPs into validating the increase of electricity prices.” While urging the government to investigate alternative ways to reduce the budget deficit (estimated at JD1.3 billion, or 5.4 percent of the GDP), Lower House deputies asked the government to spend more by building new universities, hospitals, and roads without proposing any plans on how to afford such projects.