(MENAFN - Jordan Times) The government is currently working on establishing two funds at a total cost of 25 million euros to support medium- and small-sized businesses, a government official said Wednesday.
The funds, supported by the European Investment Bank, seek to support such enterprises in order to help create jobs and alleviate unemployment in the Kingdom, which has a population of 5.9 million of whom 60 per cent are 25 years old or below.
Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Suhair Al-Ali made the announcement at the first session of the Jordan International Investment Conference 2009, which brought together 700 investors and representatives from the public and private sectors of over 14 countries.
In opening remarks at the gathering, which took place at the Dead Sea, Jordan Investment Board (JIB) CEO Maen Nsour said the gathering provides an opportunity for participants to explore investment opportunities and build bridges of cooperation, particularly in light of the global economic crisis.
Highlighting the "attractive" investment environment in Jordan, Nsour said investments attracted between 2000 and 2008 accounted for 27 per cent of the country's gross domestic product.
The JIB chief has said in previous remarks to The Jordan Times that several investment projects were expected to be announced during the conference, which concludes today.
Nsour stressed the country's keenness to proceed with reforms and to enhance the business environment to create the appropriate atmosphere for attracting further investment to the Kingdom.
Jordan seeks not only to boost the volume of investments but also to enhance the performance of these investments, he said at the conference, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Nader Dahabi deputising for His Majesty King Abdullah. HRH Princess Sumaya and several senior officials were also present at the opening.
Minister of Industry and Trade Amer Hadidi, reviewing the Kingdom's achievements over the past years in attracting investment, said work is under way to enhance investment-related legislation and arbitration in the judicial system.
He also referred to the Kingdom's plans to generate more of its own power, reducing its reliance on fossil fuels in favour of alternative energy, a move he said would help reduce production costs for the country's industries.
Also at the conference, Minister of Labour Ghazi Shbeikat announced that the government is planning to build a mining academy to provide training in the sector.
Negotiations are under way with several companies already working in this sector in Jordan to open the academy, said the minister, adding that it will be on par with international standards.
On the sidelines of yesterday's conference, Dahabi met with several participants at the conference to discuss investment opportunities available in the Kingdom.
At his meeting with the head of the financial and economic committee at the Kuwaiti parliament, Yousef Zalzalah, the premier noted that Kuwaiti investments rank first in the country.
The premier held similar meetings with a number of other business figures, including Yousef Al Nowais, managing director of Al Maabar Company, and Saleem Shaheen, president of the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, as well as businessmen from Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
During the two-day conference, participants will discuss investment opportunities in several fields including transport, ICT, tourism, energy, agriculture, medical care, pharmaceuticals, infrastructure and others.
According to the JIB, investments that benefited from the Investment Promotion Law in Jordan stood at JD1.2 billion from the beginning of this year to date. Of the total, JD993 million worth of investments were in the industrial sector.
Investments that benefited from the Investment Promotion Law stood at JD2.3 billion in 2008, compared with JD2.2 billion in 2007.
By Mohammad Ghazal