The Jordanian government will face three main challenges in its 2014 budget – the energy bill (given that the kingdom imports more than 90% of its needs and its energy bills absorb 40% of the state budget), the cost of hosting Syrian refugees, and the global economic slowdown, Finance Minister Umayya Tuqan said this week.

Reviewing Jordan’s general financial position in 2014, Mr Tuqan said that the ministry is gradually settling annual losses of some JD1.2bn ($1.7bn) in the energy and power generation sector, adding that the budget deficit will remain high until electricity rates are at par with cost. At the same time the cost of hosting Syrian refugees will rise to $3.2bn in 2014 from $2.1bn in 2013, officials estimate. On a more positive note, he was satisfied with the outcome of the 2013 budget because “the fiscal situation at the end of last year was close to estimates.” (CONTINUED - 555 WORDS)