Jordan hikes fuel prices: sixth time in four years

Other News Materials 8 February 2008 04:08 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Jordan on Thursday hiked fuel prices for the sixth time in four years and coupled the unpopular measure with a national safety net to shore up the wallets of impoverished citizens.

Price increases of 76 per cent on diesel and kerosene and 53 per cent on gas cylinders are to go into effect at midnight Friday, according to the Cabinet decision.

Fuel prices have doubled twice in four years as the cash-strapped government lifted subsidies as part of national strategy to float prices as a 50-year franchise on the country's sole oil refinery faces expiration in March.

Vehicles jammed into gas stations ahead of the midnight Friday deadline.

Employees on government payroll are to receive monthly increments of about 70 dollars, retroactive to January, to help cover the increased costs.

Jordan has 350,000 government employees and 220,000 civic and military retirees. Their wages consume more than 25 per cent of Jordan's budget.

In the past two years, King Abdullah II approved bonuses on national and religious anniversaries.

Annual per capita income in Jordan is estimated at 2,700 dollars a year. Unemployment is 14.7 per cent.

The government expects inflation to hit 9 per cent this year, but economists predict much higher rates in light of increased oil prices.

Jordan imports most of its oil consumption, about five million tonnes a year.