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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Jordanian public debt surged by 10.6 percent in 2020 to 26.50 billion dinars ($37.4 billion) as the government spent heavily to support its economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jordan’s public debt ended 2020 at 85.4 percent of GDP, up from 75.8% a year earlier, according to Ministry of Finance data. The ministry recently changed its methodology for calculating public debt, excluding obligations from the Social Security Investment Fund, which amounted to 6.67 billion dinars.
The Hashemite Kingdom’s internal debt was 12.78 billion dinars last year, while external debt stood at 13.72 billion dinars, Ministry of Finance data show.
Unemployment rose to 25 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, with youth unemployment reaching 55 percent, according to International Monetary Fund data.
Jordan responded “quickly and decisively” in its support of the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic and is making progress on its program of economic reforms, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Monday in a statement to mark the kingdom’s 100th year.
“Timely and targeted fiscal measures have helped protect jobs and the vulnerable, while equitable tax reforms – aimed at tackling evasion, closing loopholes, and broadening the tax base – have helped maintain debt sustainability,” Georgieva said.
However, the country must address high unemployment to deliver durable, jobs-rich and inclusive growth, she said.
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