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Anger simmers again in Jordan over controversial legislation

Public unrest is looming with the Jordanian Parliament passing an income tax bill after the previous version sparked nationwide protests over the summer and discussing another law that would restrict freedom of speech.

Jordan’s upper house, the Senate, passed an income tax bill on Nov. 26, a day after the House of Representatives rejected amendments it proposed. Instead of holding a joint session of both chambers, the senators opted to approve the draft law as it was passed by the lower house, which had lowered tax rates on a number of commercial and industrial sectors. On Nov. 21, the Senate voted to revert to tax rates originally suggested, stirring negative reactions from some legislators, the media and various business sectors in the kingdom. 

The government of Prime Minister Omar Razzaz has crossed a major hurdle by passing new income tax legislation, the issue that brought down its predecessor last June. In contrast to the popular protests that forced the resignation of Hani al-Mulki’s government, the Jordanian street has been eerily quiet this time. But the general mood remains both critical of the proposed law and skeptical of the government’s promises that it will not target the middle and low-income classes.

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