Amman – Jordan’s King Abdullah approved a cabinet reshuffle on Thursday that introduced changes to 11 ministries, in the fourth shake up in Prime Minister Omar Razzaz’s government since he took office 18 months ago.
Mohamad Al-Ississ was appointed as the Minister of Finance, after he previously led the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation.
Amjad al-Adayla, previously the kingdom’s ambassador to Turkey and Russia, was appointed the new minister of state for media affairs, a position where he will act as the government spokesman.
The 11 ministers were sworn in at al-Husseiniya palace in the capital of Amman.
The reshuffle also included ministers of culture, environment, transport, agriculture and education.
In June 2018, Razzaz, an economist and former education minister, was appointed as prime minister, replacing Hani al-Mulki, who was sacked amid anti-government protests against austerity measures adopted by the government in recent years.
Razzaz has been trying to revive the economy and implement reforms requested by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to decrease the budget deficit.
Thursday’s reshuffle comes less than two weeks after Razzaz announced a stimulus plan to promote economic growth and decrease unemployment by introducing incentives for investors and exemptions in the real estate sector as well as financial support for companies that hire Jordanians instead of foreigners.
Unemployment stood at 19.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2019, according to the government’s statistics agency.
Also on Thursday, the government’s Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission said it referred five "major corruption cases" to the prosecutors. The companies involved have committed violations worth millions of dinars, the commission said in a statement published by the cabinet.
One case involves a lawmaker, the commission said, as it vowed that "no one is above the law and accountability" regardless of their position and that Jordanians "will see a new mechanism in dealing with corruption files."
Since his appointment, Razzaz has been trying to quell public anger by saying he would pursue the battle against corruption.
There are currently some 29 people, including former officials and prominent businessmen, on trial in one of the Jordan’s largest corruption cases in recent years.
They are accused of money laundering, bribery, customs smuggling and tax evasion in relation to illegal production and smuggling of tobacco, an operation worth millions of dollars.