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Cash-strapped Jordan imposes new taxes; public anger ensues

Economists suggest the Jordanian government should cut its own expenses and those of its staff instead of imposing taxes that add to the people’s economic burden.

A couple of tax-related measures recently introduced by the Jordanian government have triggered criticism and even riots in one city on the border with Syria. Residents of Ramtha, 56 miles north of Amman, took to the streets Aug. 23-24 to protest an unexpected government decision issued Aug. 22 that limits the quantity of certain items — for example, only one carton of cigarettes per person — that an individual can bring into the kingdom. Anyone caught entering with more than the allowable limits could be charged with smuggling.

Ramtha’s economy heavily depends on cross-border trade with Syria, and hundreds of taxi drivers from the city transport passengers and goods on a daily basis between the two countries. The city’s economy suffered when the border was closed between 2015 and 2018 after the Syrian government lost control of the crossing point to rebel forces.

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