Gov’t changes laws to ‘encourage investment, stimulate economy’
By Khalid Neimat
AMMAN - Arab and foreign investors whose projects are making profits in Jordan will not pay a 10 per cent tax on profits transferred abroad as stipulated in the draft income tax law, a senior official said.
At a press conference Tuesday, Minister of Finance Mohammad Abu Hammour also announced that there will be no increase in the tax currently levied on fuel.
The minister told reporters that under a temporary income tax law, which the Cabinet endorsed earlier this week and will be published in the Official Gazette today, the 10 per cent tax, which has been blamed for making investors think twice about continuing to invest in Jordan, has been abolished in a bid to reverse this trend and attract more investments into the Kingdom.
“I am personally aware that certain leading investors in the country were planning to move their investments abroad if this particular provision was endorsed,” the minister said.
The minister also underlined an addition to the temporary income tax law that allows the government, if it deems such a move appropriate under certain economic circumstances, to lower the income tax on the financial sector by up to 1 per cent annually (starting one year after the law comes into effect), provided that the tax does not drop below specified limits for each sector.
Meanwhile, Abu Hammour assured the public that there will be no increase in the existing 6 per cent tax on oil derivatives, explaining that the amendment made to the legislation was only to remove Article 48, which imposes this tax, from the Municipalities Law and add the provision to the General Tax on Sales Law for 2009 under the category of “special taxes”.
The official also highlighted financial decisions he said were meant to sustain policies aimed at supporting vital sectors, especially tourism, construction and housing.
For example, he said, the Cabinet has decided to renew for another year a cut to the hotel accommodations tax, which will remain at 8 per cent, instead of the 14 per cent that was in place for years. The previous government reduced the tax to support the sector, which has been among industries hit by the global economic crisis.
The government also decided to renew until the end of next year an exemption from registration fees on the first 120 square metres of apartments sized 300 square metres or less.
Housing contractors told The Jordan Times on Monday the renewal of the exemption would help the sector recover, amid other measures that would put the industry back on track in 2010.
Asked if there were plans to modify the State Budget Law for 2010, Abu Hammour said: “So far, we have no intention to make any changes to the budget, but early next year, we should revisit the law to modify it in light of any developments that might emerge in terms of revenues and expenditures.”
30 December 2009
Real estate developers explore investment opportunities, challenges
AMMAN - Representatives from 65 companies on Monday showcased real estate projects worth $10 billion at the 3rd Real Estate Investments Conference PropertyLink 2008.
In a speech by Prime Minister Nader Dahabi, delivered on his behalf by Minister of Public Works and Housing Sahel Majali during a conference held on the sidelines of the event, the premier said the Kingdom has succeeded in placing itself on the property map, due to its political and legislative stability.
He said such conditions helped attract investments worth billions of dollars to the capital, Aqaba, the Dead Sea and other areas and encouraged many real estate developers to invest in the Kingdom.
The 3rd Real Estate Investments Conference PropertyLink 2008 aims at familiarising consumers, potential investors and real estate owners with the state of real estate developments, particularly during the current unprecedented construction boom.
“The government will continue drafting laws and legislation for attracting investments in the real estate sector, which is witnessing a huge influx of investments and an expansion in housing projects,” Dahabi said in his speech.
He attributed this high record in investments to the country’s political stability and His Majesty King Abdullah’s clear vision in promoting trust in the national economy and stimulating growth in this area.
Meanwhile, Jordan Investment Board CEO Maen Nsour reviewed the current loan situation, noting that many banks have reached their loan ceilings, which resulted in a “bottleneck” for loan applicants.
Nsour also stressed the need for high-end projects to help develop the country’s infrastructure.
Reviewing the housing supply and demand, Taameer Jordan Holdings deputy CEO for marketing and sales, Rami Adwan, said the market annually needs 35,000-50,000 housing units, while only 20,000 are available.
Adwan called for carrying out further research on the country’s needs for housing projects, taking into consideration what is currently being designed and constructed.
Although the focus has been mostly on high-end real estate and investments, Tamleek Real Estate Investment and Development Vice Chairman and CEO Muayyad Dabbas assured participants that Jordanians will not “get the short end of the stick”.
Participants at the conference held joint seminars and discussions exploring the realities of real estate investment opportunities and future challenges facing the sector.
Abu Dhabi's Al Maabar launches $10 billion Aqaba development
Amman, February 26th, 2009:
Abu-Dhabi-based Al Maabar International Investments has announced the development of Marsa Zayed, a $10 billion real estate investment in Aqaba, through its subsidiary the Al Maabar Jordan Real Estate Development Company. The announcement took place at a gala dinner held last night under the patronage of Jordanian Prime Minister Nader Dahabi, who was joined by Al Maabar's chairman Ahmad Ali Al Sayegh, vice-chairman Mr. Saeed Eid Al Ghafli and managing director Mr. Yousef Al Nowais. Also present was the Chief Commissioner of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone AuthorityAqaba Special Economic Zone AuthorityAqaba Special Economic Zone Authority Marsa Zayed, named in memory of the Late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, is a 3.2 Km² development including 2 Km of waterfront and is the biggest real estate and tourism project to take place in the history of Jordan. It is also one of the most significant developments in the region. Al Maabar will develop a mega mixed-use waterfront project, including high-rise residential towers, retail, recreational, entertainment, business and financial districts and several branded hotels. Several marinas will add to the current berthing capacity which will transform Aqaba into a premier yachting destination; in addition to a state-of-the-art cruise ship terminal, which will become one of Jordan's touristic landmarks and a welcoming gateway to Aqaba.
The project will be implemented in several phases once the transfer of land ownership is complete. Phase one of construction will commence by the first half of 2010 following the completion of the land survey and a series of technical studies which are currently taking place in coordination with Aqaba's local Authority, ASEZAASEZA. In 2008, Al Maabar signed an agreement with the Government of Jordan whereby the company acquired 3.2 million Sqm of land in Aqaba for $500 million for the development and establishment of a mixed-use residential, tourism and commercial project. The government's handover of the land will be carried out in three phases; the first to take place by June of this year, the second in September while the third and final phase by March 2013, once the new ports are built in southern Aqaba.
"Al Maabar is committed to delivering added value to its partner countries. This is achieved through job creation, stimulating economies and the development of local skills and capabilities. We take great pride in our partnership with Jordan and are very confident that this relationship will only strengthen as Marsa Zayed becomes a landmark project and a major economic stimulus for the Kingdom", said Al Nowais. He added that, "The name Marsa Zayed was selected collectively by His Majesty King Abdullah, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed and His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in memory of the Late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates."
"Today we celebrate the announcement of one of the most successful and exceptional projects in Aqaba, which strengthens the already outstanding brotherly relations between Jordan and the UAE," said the Chief Commissioner of Aqaba Special Economic Zone AuthorityAqaba Special Economic Zone AuthorityAqaba Special Economic Zone Authority Al Maabar was established in 2007 as a joint venture between Abu Dhabi's six leading investment companies: Mubadala, Al Dar Properties, Sorouh Real Estate, Reem Investments, Reem International and Al Qudra Holdings , with several projects underway in the Gulf Region, Middle East and North Africa.
Al Maabar International Investments is a joint venture between Abu Dhabi's five leading real estate developers: The company aims to raise the profile of Abu Dhabi's real estate sector on the world stage, with a mission to become one of the UAE's most distinguished global investment enterprises. Al Maabar develops landmark property developments throughout the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Asia. These developments are designed to add real value to the host country through job creation, talent development, knowledge transfer and economic stimulus.
Amman’s double distinction
Amman’s skyline will soon look strikingly different. The twin soaring structures of Limitless Towers are set to rise over 200m in the heart of Abdoun upon completion in 2011.
They will be the tallest – and two of the most distinctive – buildings in Jordan. The residential development, up to 60 storeys, will form a new hub in the west of the city, and will showcase some of the most daring architecture in the Middle East, including the world’s highest suspended swimming pool, at 125 metres. The glass-bottomed pool, accessed from the 40th storey of each building, will provide a bird’s-eye view of Amman and beyond.
Other distinguishing features include private terraces, express elevators and floor-to-ceiling windows. The unique stone façade of the Towers will adapt to outside conditions: it will shield light and heat during the day, fade to the warm colours of sunset, before backlights provide illumination at night.
The development will set new levels in sustainable design, and aims to meet world environmental standards. Energy-saving light sensors and water recycling schemes are among numerous eco-friendly initiatives.
The Towers will also boast an indoor plaza with retail, entertainment and leisure facilities as well as extensive landscaped grounds spanning 5,600 square metres. Construction of the US$300 million project is due to start in October 2008.
Limitless Towers marks the beginning of the city’s urban development plan, led by the Greater Amman Municipality. Limitless has recently launched Amman-based operations ahead of further planned projects in Jordan.
At a glance
? 91,200 sqm of residential space
? 1,500 sqm of retail and restaurant space
? Approximately 600 residential units for almost 2,000 people
? Total area covers 117,133 sqm
Government to set up zones in Jordan Valley, Dead Sea area
AMMAN (Petra) - The government plans to set up development zones in the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea area to ensure sustainable economic growth throughout the Kingdom, Labour Minister Bassem Salem told a large gathering of businessmen and investors Highlighting the objectives of the recently established King Hussein Ben Talal Economic Zone in Mafraq and the Economic Development Zone in Irbid, Salem stressed that the proposed regions will enable all citizens across the Kingdom to reap the benefits of development.
The King Hussein Ben Talal Economic Zone seeks to draw around JD800 million in investments to provide around 35,000 job opportunities while Irbid’s zone plans to draw around JD0.5 billion in investments and to provide around 13,000 job opportunities, the minister indicated. The development zones are expected to address poverty and unemployment problems and improve the living standard of people in such areas. The minister also pledged that the government will tackle obstacles facing investors in order to boost investments. He conceded that there are delays in certain areas such as infrastructure but assured businessmen that their remarks will be forwarded to the prime minister for solutions. Responding to a question regarding the licensing of new refineries, Salem said the government does not intend to issue any such licences and indicated that the strategy of the energy sector aims at expanding the existing refinery by attracting a strategic partner.
Batayneh describes public transport as knotty issue that needs reorganisation
AMMAN (Petra) - Transport Minister Alaa Batayneh described the public transport sector as a knotty issue that needs reorganisation. Addressing a monthly gathering organised by the Jordan Exporters Association, the minister indicated that the Kingdom’s public transport comprises 32,000 vehicles, 88 per cent of which are owned by individuals. “The routes that were previously authorised were not based on studies due to the lack of sufficient information about the sector,” Batayneh said. “The routes became like an ownership deed and an acquired right.” He pointed out that the transport sector burns up 37 per cent of the overall consumption of fuel derivatives and that public transport accounts for 16 per cent of the mentioned percentage.
He noted that the sector’s national strategy for the years 2008-2010 which was set forth in collaboration with the private sector aimed to identify the sector’s future vision as well as amendments of relevant legislations, stressing that the ministry adopts the free market policy and does not interfere in setting the public transport fares. According to the minister, there is an intention to reconsider a previous decision prohibiting non-Jordanians from investing in land public transport and freight sector. He even expected a government decision in the very near future to include the transport sector among others that benefit from the Investment Promotion Law. “Such decision will encourage investors to engage in the sector and benefit from exemptions which will in turn positively reflect on the development of the Kingdom’s exports,” he said. He called on individual truck owners to establish private companies pointing out that out of over 13,770 trucks serving the Kingdom, 58 per cent are owned by individuals.
The minister noted that 78 per cent of the total number have been in service for over 10 years. He stressed that ageing vehicles hinder the export of goods, particularly agricultural products, and highlighted a government drive during the past two years that exempted public transport trucks from custom duties in a bid to encourage their owners to replace them with new vehicles. Batayneh indicated that Jordan was among 13 Arab countries that approved a railway linkage agreement during meetings of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. The agreement requested those states to implement their internal railway network within 10-15 years. “The government has allocated JD100 million in 2009 state budget for the purpose of expropriating lands for the implementation of the project,” the minister said. The project’s cost is estimated at JD2.7 billion for infrastructure, while JD1.4 billion will be disbursed for purchasing rail fleet that would cover 1,086 kilometres inside Jordanian territories. With regard to Amman- Zarqa light railway project, Batayneh said it will start operating in the first quarter of 2011 in accordance with a JD236 million deal the government has signed with a Kuwaiti-Spanish consortium.
Batayneh said the government awarded a tender to expand and operate Queen Alia International Airport to the Airport International Group. The upgrading will increase the airport’s capacity from 3.5 million passengers in 2006 to 9 million in 2010, with the potential of the airport for 12 million by the end of the project’s second phase.
The minister added that the train will run on a dual-track railway from Zarqa city to Raghadan Station in Amman city centre along 26 kilometres according to a build, operate and transfer basis for a period of 30 years.