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Jordan to Crack Down on Scofflaws Rather than Impose New Taxes

Jordan’s finance minister promised lawmakers in Amman this week that the government would not impose new taxes, but would find other means to help fill government coffers, including a crackdown on tax evaders. “We have to reach the necessary revenues to maintain fiscal stability,” Finance Minister Mohamad Al Ississ told members of the parliamentary Finance Committee on Thursday, adding that tax evasion reduces government revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Jordanians have staged numerous protests over hikes in taxes, utility fees and other levies intended in part to help cover a heavy foreign debt, with some demonstrations turning violent. It certainly is not lost on policymakers in Amman that Lebanese and Iraqi protesters have paralyzed those countries over low standards of living and perceived government corruption. In October, the Jordanian government caved in to demands by striking teachers to make good on promised wage hikes after raising military pensions, with both moves significantly adding to public expenditures.