More coordination over renewable energy urged

Updated 05 November 2012
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More coordination over renewable energy urged

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the German government remained committed to expanding its renewable energy capacity and would strive to coordinate policies better with the country’s 16 states.
Merkel and state leaders said better coordination would help Germany achieve its goal of getting 40 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, from 25 percent currently.
Merkel’s decision to abandon nuclear power after last year’s Fukushima disaster has led to a growing need for alternative energy sources. Germany leads the world in solar power capacity and is one of the world’s biggest wind energy producers.
Differing interests between the states and the federal government has led to confusion and delays in building the infrastructure needed to transport offshore wind energy from the north to power-hungry states in the south. This problem will become acute when nuclear plants are shut down by 2022.
Merkel and the state leaders said they share the same goals — expanding renewables while ensuring stable and reliable supplies of energy at affordable prices.
“We want to keep those goals in mind without breaking the dynamic growth of renewables,” Merkel said, referring to criticism about rising electricity prices due in part to the rapid expansion of renewables such as wind, solar and biomass.
“It’s not easy. But we feel an obligation to find solutions. We all want the ‘energy revolution’ in Germany to succeed.”
The state leaders and Merkel agreed to meet in March to discuss progress.
Torsten Albig, state premier of the northern state of Lower Saxony where wind energy plants are being expanded rapidly, said states could no longer pursue their own strategies for expanding renewables without paying heed to a national strategy.
“We’re now confident that we can move forward together,” he said.
“The idea is ‘Let’s not organize this as 16 states plus one federal government but rather as one organization’. We feel good about the way this is going.”
Merkel said she was in favor of keeping the country’s Renewable Energy Law (EEG) intact even though some members of her coalition have called for it to be scrapped because of the rapid expansion of renewable energy.
“I don’t think we’re going to be able to be selective about how to solve the problem,” she said. “We’ve got to include this within the EEG. We need a political framework.”


Jordanian cabinet approves new IMF-guided tax law to boost finances

Updated 21 May 2018
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Jordanian cabinet approves new IMF-guided tax law to boost finances

AMMAN: Jordan’s cabinet on Monday approved major IMF-guided proposals that aim to double the income tax base, as a key part of reforms to boost the finances of a debt-burdened economy hit by regional conflict.
“When only 4 percent of Jordanians pay (personal) income tax, this may not be the right thing,” Finance Minister Omar Malhas said in remarks after the cabinet meeting, adding the goal was to push that to eight percent. The draft legislation was submitted to parliament.
The IMF’s three-year Extended Fund Facility program aims to generate more state revenue to gradually bring down public debt to 77 percent of GDP in 2021, from a record 95 percent.
A few months ago Jordan raised levies on hundreds of food and consumer items by unifying general sales tax (GST) to 16 percent — removing exemptions on many basic goods.
In January subsidies on bread were ended, doubling some prices in a country with rising unemployment and poverty among its eight million people.
The income tax move and the GST reforms will bring an estimated 840 million dinars ($1.2 billion) in extra annual tax revenue that will help reduce chronic budget shortfalls normally covered by foreign aid, officials say.
Corporate income tax on banks, financial institutions and insurance companies will be pushed to 40 percent from 30 percent. Taxes on Jordan’s phosphate and potash mining industry will be raised to 30 percent from 24.
The government argues the reforms will reduce social disparities by progressively taxing high earners while leaving low-paid public sector employees largely untouched.
“This is a fair tax law not an unfair one,” said Malhas, who shrugged off criticism the law is lenient on many businesses connected to politicians whose transactions are not subject to tax scrutiny.
Husam Abu Ali, the head of the Income and Sales Tax Department, said a proposed IMF-recommended Financial Crime Investigations Unit will stiffen penalties for tax evaders. Critics say it will not tackle pervasive corruption in state institutions.
Abu Ali said the government could be losing hundreds of millions of dollars through tax evasion, which is as high as 80 percent in some companies.
The amendments lower the income tax threshold and raise tax rates. Unions said the government was caving in to IMF demands and squeezing more from the same taxpayers.
“It is penalizing a group that has long paid what it owes the state,” the unions syndicate said in a statement.
“It imposes injustice on employees whose salaries have barely coped with price hikes rising madly in recent years.”