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article imageJordan arrests 17 protesters against fiscal reform

By AFP     Dec 14, 2018 in World

Seventeen Jordanians were arrested over protests against a controversial fiscal reform, a judicial source in Amman said on Friday.

The attorney general in the capital decided to "arrest 17 people who he accused of participating the previous day in a protest near the prime minister's office and of provoking trouble which resulted in police and members of the security forces being wounded", the source said.

Those arrested would be kept in custody for a week, the judicial source said, without specifying how many police had been wounded.

A thousand Jordanians had taken to the streets of Amman on Thursday to protest against an income tax law adopted in November under an austerity programme aimed at reducing public debt.

The protesters gathered near Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz's office, which was cordoned off by security forces.

"Down with the tax law," read one sign, held aloft by demonstrators calling for "reforms and change".

"We want a government of patriots, not a gang of thieves," the protestors said.

Jordanian lawmakers on November 18 approved an IMF-backed income tax bill after making amendments to a controversial draft law that sparked a week of angry protests in June.

The original bill, which the government approved in June, raised taxes for employees by at least five percent, and on companies by between 20 and 40 percent.

These measures were left unchanged in the amended version.

But in a concession, the revised bill raises the 2019 threshold for households to pay income tax to 20,000 Jordanian dinars (28,000 dollars, 24,750 euros) from a previous ceiling of 18,000.

The amended legislation also introduced exemptions of up to 2,000 dinars per family for basic expenses such as education and health, and 1,000 dinars per single person, if receipts are provided.

The demonstrators on Thursday chanted for the release of 24 activists local media said had been detained in smaller scale protests over the last two weeks.

With a lack of natural resources to boost state coffers, Jordan relies heavily on foreign aid and has an unemployment rate of 18.5 percent.

Stability in Jordan is seen as fundamental to the region and in the wake of the June protests Amman was offered a $2.5 billion aid package by three Gulf backers.

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