Jordan’s King expected to ask Prime Minister Hani Mulki to resign

Vastavam web: Jordan’s King Abdullah was expected on Monday to ask Prime Minister Hani Mulki to resign in a bid to soothe widespread anger over economic policies that has sparked the largest protests in several years, political sources said. The dismissal of Mulki was demanded in a series of protests against IMF-backed tax increases that have shaken the kingdom. The sources said King Abdullah had ordered Mulki for an audience in his palace later on Monday.

Public anger over IMF-driven government policies has grown since a steep general sales tax hike earlier this year and the abolition of bread subsidies, a staple item for the poor. Thousands of Jordanians took to the streets of the capital, Amman, and in main provincial towns on Sunday in an extension of protests that began last Wednesday. Witnesses said demonstrators who converged near the Cabinet office said they would disband only if the government rescinded the tax bill it sent to parliament last month, which critics say would worsen living standards.

“The government has made us penniless they have left us with no more money in our pockets,” chanted protesters. The government says it needs more funds for public services and argues that tax changes reduce social disparities by placing a heavier burden on high earners and leaving lower-paid state workers relatively unscathed Jordan’s economy has struggled to grow in the past few years in the face of chronic deficits as private foreign capital and aid flows have declined. Politicians and economists say the tough IMF-imposed fiscal consolidation plan has worsened the plight of poorer Jordanian and squeezed the middle class.