(MENAFN- Jordan Times) AMMAN — The Lower House Financial Committee on Tuesday presented its report on the draft laws for the state budget and the budgets of independent government units, recommending that all 60-year-old Jordanians be covered by free health insurance.
The state has already covered citizens who are 70 and above under the subsidised health care umbrella.
Reading the report, the panel's rapporteur MP Riyadh Azzam noted that the cost of including the 60-to-69-year-old citizens in the health insurance would stand at around JD23 million which, he said, can be covered from the allocations for medical treatment.
The panel also recommended the inclusion of the security bodies' serving staff and retirees whose monthly salary is below JD1,500 in the cash subsidy system proposed in the 2018 state budget law in addition to removing from the bill the provision excluding families owning two cars and properties valuing JD300,000 from obtaining the subsidy.
The government submitted the 2018 state budget law to the House in late November, including, for the first time, a social safety network/cash subsidy with a value of JD171 million.
The funds are meant to make up for the rising cost of living that will be brought about by cancelling subsidies on commodities that have been a fixture in the economic system for decades, mainly bread.
Cash subsidy will be directed to all Jordanian families whose total annual income does not exceed JD12,000 a year and to individuals whose annual income is not more than JD6,000, providing that families do not possess two cars or more, or land and real estate with a value of more than JD300,000.
The committee agreed with the government's estimation of the value of the cash subsidy at around JD32.5 per individual a year.
The panel also recommended the exemption of households whose monthly electricity consumption does not exceed 300kph from increases to electricity prices should oil international prices exceed $55 per barrel. The committee also advised that prices of kerosene remain unchanged during winter.
For the purpose of increasing public revenues, the panel also called for revisiting customs laws and stiffening penalties on those who evade paying the levies.
In the draft budget law, the government expected economic growth to stand at 2.5 per cent in 2018, and 2.7 and 2.9 per cent for the following two years, respectively, and the inflation rates to drop to 1.5 per cent in 2018 and rise to 2.5 per cent in each of 2019 and 2020, compared to its current level of 3.3 per cent.
In the budget bill, domestic revenues are foreseen to stand at JD8.496 billion, compared with JD7.715 billion of reestimated revenues in 2017, with current expenditures estimated at JD7.886 billion and capital expenditures at JD1.153 billion in 2018.
The after-grants deficit in 2018's budget is expected to sway around JD543 million in 2018, dropping by JD209 million in the reestimated value in the 2017 budget.
The House will begin next Sunday its deliberations over the draft laws for the state budget and the budgets of independent government units. Speakers on behalf of each parliamentary bloc, its members and individual MPs will be given 20 minutes, seven minutes and ten minutes, respectively, to comment on the bills in question.
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