Jordan cuts social security contributions amid coronavirus chaos

A Jordanian taxi driver wears a face mask amid concerns over coronavirus as Greater Amman Municipality employees sanitizes public transport at a station in Jordan, March 17, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 20 March 2020

Jordan cuts social security contributions amid coronavirus chaos

  • Razzaz told Jordanians from the Crisis Management Center that he is suspending the 2014 act
  • Razzaz said that a crisis committee was established on Jan. 24 and has taken 131 decisions to protect Jordanians from the coronavirus

AMMAN: Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzaz on Thursday suspended some clauses of the Social Security Act. It was his first order as military ruler following martial law being enacted on March 18.
Razzaz, who praised personal and institutional initiatives, told Jordanians from the Crisis Management Center that he is suspending the 2014 act.
“As a result of the extraordinary situation and to support the private sector and to provide for living needs of our people, we are issuing military order number one suspending certain clauses of the social security regulations.”
Musa Subihi, the spokesman of the Social Security Authority, told Arab News that the new order will allow companies to reduce the mandatory commitment of paying 21.75 percent on each staff member to 5.4 percent. This will take place for the months of March, April and May.
Dr. Natheer Obeidat, head of the Jordanian Health Ministry’s epidemic section, told Arab News that as of midnight on Wednesday the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Jordan stands at 69. “Newly updated results will be issued at about 10 p.m. every evening based on lab results.”
Saad Mouasher, chair of the board of Al Ahli Bank,told Arab News that two years ago it was the first bank to give customers the ability to reschedule loan payments twice a year. “From today, all loan payments have been rescheduled entirely unless otherwise requested by our customer.”
Razzaz said that a crisis committee was established on Jan. 24 and has taken 131 decisions to protect Jordanians from the coronavirus, including the decision to fly Jordanians and other Arabs from Wuhan and to place returning Jordanians in hotels. Amjad Adaileh, minister for media affairs, told the press that 4,892 people returning from abroad are under mandatory 14-day quarantine in 34 hotels in Amman and the Dead Sea.
Adnan Abu Odeh, adviser to the late King Hussein and King Abdullah II, told Arab News that the leadership of Jordan is handling the crisis well. “Razzaz has done the logical work that should be done in such a circumstance. He and his team have followed the World Health Organization protocols very closely.”
The prime minister reiterated the need to limit travel and movement to essential services. “The military has been deployed to prevent anyone except for medical and other essential services from traveling across city limits.”
Mohammad Abu Safieh, anchor of the popular Taxi Fm program on Radio Al-Balad, told Arab News that the government has been sending mixed messages, especially to licensed taxis companies and drivers. “Initially they stopped buses and allowed taxis and application companies to work, but on Wednesday night and without prior warning taxis were stopped and impounded. By midnight,180 were stopped and the drivers were arrested only to be released later on orders of the minister of transportation,” he told Arab News.
On Thursday morning, Salah Lowzi, head of the transport regulatory committee, told the press that licensed yellow taxis and taxis working on licensed applications — such as Uber and Carrim — can continue to work for essential medical needs.
In his address to Jordanians, the prime minister said that “if the government errs, we will have the courage to make the needed corrections.”


Palestinian refugees in Lebanon receive first COVID-19 tests, Jordan discuss financial support with PLO

Updated 2 min 38 sec ago

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon receive first COVID-19 tests, Jordan discuss financial support with PLO

  • Lebanon began coronavirus examination trials at Al-Hamshari Hospital in the southern city of Sidon
  • Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi spoke with PLO about cooperation between Jordan and Palestine in facing the pandemic

DUBAI: Lebanon has begun the first round of COVID-19 tests for Palestinian refugees on Tuesday, while Jordan looks to mobilize efforts to financially support United Nations Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Lebanon began coronavirus examination trials at Al-Hamshari Hospital in the southern city of Sidon, Lebanese national The Daily Star reported.
Palestinian refugees who live in cramped quarters are especially vulnerable to a potential COVID-19 outbreak.
The UNRWA has been criticized for its lack of assistance with preventative measures against the virus in the camps, the report said.
Meanwhile, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi spoke with the Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) executive committee, Saeb Erekat, about cooperation between Jordan and Palestine in facing the pandemic, The Jordan Times reported. 
Safadi and Erekat also covered efforts to mobilize financial support to UNRWA to enable it to continue offering vital services to refugees under the difficult circumstances that have placed additional burdens on the UN agency, which is already facing a financial crisis, according to a ministry statement.
Safadi discussed Jordan’s efforts to secure UNRWA’s - which is already facing a financial crisis - deficit of $14 million to face the crisis.