This New Years, the Lower House voted in favour of the state budget and budgets of independent government units draft law in a session, that witnessed the absence of more than 30 MPs, who boycotted the deliberations. Among the 99 legislators present (out of 130), 58 lawmakers voted in favor of the bill. The 2018 draft state budget includes, for the first time, a social safety network/cash subsidy with a value of 177 million JD to make up for rising cost of living brought about by lifting subsidies. The Islamist Islah bloc (14 seats), along with several others, decided to boycott the debate in protest of lifting subsidies off essential commodities that have been a fixture in the national economy over decades. Bread subsidies, which have been part of the budget for years, will be removed. The subsidy will target members of the army, security, and civil service whose current salary is below 1,500 JD.
The agreement also cancels two conditions originally set for eligibility to receive the cash support. These conditions included a restriction on families with two cars or more and/or real estate worth 300,000 JD and more. Furthermore, all Jordanian families whose total annual income does not exceed 12,000 JD and individuals whose annual income is not more than 6,000 JD will be eligible to receive the cash subsidy, estimated for each individual at around 32 JD annually. The corrective measures to be implemented by the government, including public expenditure control, will increase revenues by 450 million JD in 2018, according to the budget statement. It was also agreed upon to exempt households that consume less than 300 kw/h a month from any price hikes that apply when the oil barrel price exceeds $55. The Cabinet had already decided to include the 60-69 age category under the free medical care umbrella, among other measures to ease the impact of the new system on low-income citizens. Prime Minister Hani Mulki thanked lawmakers for their vote and commended the new approach to the deliberations. Social media users in Jordan on Thursday slammed the quick endorsement of the 2018 state budget in one day, expecting 2018 to be a tough year with the endorsed decisions that included ending bread subsidies.
In an unprecedented occurrence, the House debated and voted over the bill in one day, On Twitter and Facebook, users claimed voting on the state budget and endorsing it in a single day was "unacceptable", noting with the increase in taxes and ending bread subsidies would make 2018 a tough year. Social Media users were outraged, saying that the council members didn’t honor their commitment to the people. Others were shocked that a state budget for a struggling country would be pasted so hastily and with so few of the council members present.