Jordan’s 2013 draft budget will focus on development projects, while maintaining the austerity drive which began in 2012. But this is not expected to prove easy – last year the government ended with a high fiscal deficit, brought about by the increased cost of imported energy to replace cheaper Egyptian gas supplies to the kingdom. Approved on 31 December the budget projects total revenue at JD6.146bn ($8.666bn), up 5.8% from the 2012 budget (see table). Expenditure is estimated at JD7.456mn ($10.513bn), up 9.1% on the previous year. The resulting deficit is put at JD1.310bn ($1.847bn) including grants and at a higher JD2.160bn ($3.046bn) if grants are excluded, accoutning for 5.4% and 8.9% of GDP respectively.

Jordan’s Minister of Finance, Sulaiman al-Hafidh, said that the budget seeks to curb current expenditure and to raise capital expenditure. The minister added that by raising the ratio of capital to total expenditure from 14.6% in 2012 to 16.7% in 2013, the government will be able to focus on the implementation of vital development projects in the energy, water and transport sectors. He added that the government intends to become more dependent on domestic revenue, which in 2013 will be able to cover 85.3% of current expenditure, up from 75.0% in 2012. (CONTINUED - 614 WORDS)