By Omar Obeidat

AMMAN –– Over JD1.02 billion will be spent on water and sewage projects in the coming three years as part of the Executive Development Programme (EDP) for 2011-2013.

Representing around 16.5 per cent of the JD6.2 billion programme, the financial allocations will be spent on enhancing water distribution and sewage networks, building water desalination plants and constructing new dams.

At a meeting with media representatives Sunday, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Jafar Hassan indicated a large portion of foreign grants to the Kingdom goes to the water sector.

Around JD338.2 million will be spent in 2011, JD360.1 million in 2012 and JD329.8 million in 2013 on water and sewage schemes, according to the planning ministry.

The transport sector comes second in terms of its share in the EDP funds, with 13 per cent or JD822.9 million allocated for the planned National Railway Network project as well as other projects to enhance public transportation services across the Kingdom.

Hassan highlighted the importance of implementing the railway project, which seeks to connect Jordan with its neighbouring countries, saying the mega-scheme will boost the country’s economic competitiveness, as Jordan will be the link between Gulf countries and Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

The energy and natural resources sector is also among the programme’s top priorities with over JD629.6 million set aside for renewable and nuclear energy plans and to projects that aim at improving electricity power generation in the Kingdom.

“Many of the economic challenges we face today are due to rising oil prices on international markets, and by reducing our dependency on oil, we will strengthen our economy,” the minister said at the meeting, which was attended by officials and department directors at the ministry.

Among the other top 10 priorities included in the three-year EDP are the sectors of healthcare (JD519.8 million), higher education and scientific research (JD450 million), public works (JD380 million), poverty combating and social welfare (JD357 million), public education (JD311 million), local development (JD305 million) and housing (JD205 million), Hassan remarked.

“It is important to have a development programme for the short term associated with clear objectives that go in line with the country’s fiscal capabilities,” he noted, stating these 10 sectors represent around 80 per cent of the programme’s total funds.

The EDP was prepared during the first half of last year through the collaborative efforts of 114 government agencies and was reviewed by ministerial sectoral committees for weeks and approved by the Council of Ministers late last year to guide the work of the government and to determine medium-term programmes for ministries and public agencies.

Around JD2.8 billion of the EDP will be funded by the state budget and JD1.6 billion will come from capital expenditure in the budgets of independent government institutions. Meanwhile, JD594 million will be secured through self-financing and JD561 million from confirmed foreign grants.

In addition, a total of JD306 million will come from current expenditure allocations in the state budget to development projects for universities. The National Aid Fund will receive during the period in question a total of JD256 million set aside under current expenditure in the budgets of independent government entities, according to the ministry.

The EDP sets realistic goals and priorities for capital projects in more than 24 sectors and includes 600 key performance indicators.