By Suleiman Al-Khalidi
AMMAN (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday Jordan needed to accelerate structural economic reforms to push growth beyond the average 2% to 3% it has struck in recent years to help it generate more jobs to reduce high unemployment.
“With unemployment still high, and particularly among the youth and women, structural reforms are essential for achieving strong and inclusive growth and creating more jobs,” IMF official Ron van Rooden told reporters.
Growth needed to rise to help create jobs to ease high unemployment currently standing at around 22.9%, he added.
A 2.6% growth rate forecast for this year was still insufficient to improve standards of living in a country with a population of nearly eleven million and annual population growth of around 2%, he said.
The IMF official, who was ending a visit to conduct the sixth review of the country’s IMF-backed programme, said Jordan remained firmly on track with key program targets met and progress through prudent monetary and fiscal policies.
“Despite a challenging global and regional environment, Jordan has maintained macroeconomic stability,” van Rooden said.
Jordan’s macroeconomic stability had helped it tap more favourable interest rates from international capital markets than other sovereign countries when it issued last months’ Eurobond worth $1.25 billion, he said.
“We are calling Jordan a success story because they have consistently implemented sound macroeconomic policy, fiscal policy, monetary policy,” he said.
Finance Minister Mohamad Al Ississ said the four-year IMF backed programme due to end next year had helped preserve economic stability in difficult global circumstances.
Inflation was on track to moderate to 2.7% in 2023 from earlier projections of 3.8% with a tight monetary policy that helped to curb global inflationary pressures, van Rooden said.
(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Chris Reese)