Jordan to reap rewards for tough measures against COVID-19: minister

Jordan will reap the rewards for its strict measures against COVID-19, Jordan’s Minister of Finance Mohammad Al Ississ told Xinhua in a recent interview.

“We will reap the rewards of our tough measures soon, as several international organizations and I believed Jordan would be one of the first countries to recover from the virus and start economic activities,” al Ississ said.

On March 21, Jordan started imposing a full-fledged curfew to combat the spread of coronavirus. The government also shut down businesses in almost all sectors and started a long work stoppage for the private sector and ministries that is scheduled to last until the end of May.

The kingdom has started easing curfew restrictions and opening up businesses gradually in several sectors as of mid-April, due to the decline in the number of coronavirus cases.

The total number of COVID-19 cases reached 461 and the deaths reached nine as of Sunday.

“We resorted to giving the salaries of the public sector to make sure that basic expenditure continued in the market. We also paid more than 500 million dinars (about 700 million U.S. dollars) out of our dues to the private sector to make more cash available in the market,” al Ississ said.

Besides, Jordan launched a 700-million-U.S. dollar fund to support small and medium-sized businesses with soft loans, said the minister.

“We took tough and hard measures at the beginning of the crisis because the health of our citizens is the priority and when the health of the public is protected and preserved, it would be easier to resume business activities and the economic movement in the country,” said the finance minister.

However, the COVID-19 crisis still has a negative impact on the economy.

“We have to be honest, this is not going to be an easy problem to overcome. There will be a negative impact on our economy,” al Ississ said.

Jordan’s economy is expected to contract by 3.7 percent in 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The minister added that Jordan relies on the support of its partners.

“We call for continued support by the donor community to Jordan in light of these circumstances, especially that Jordan continues to host a large number of Syrian refugees,” said the finance minister.