Jordan, UK Agree On Refugee-Related, Humanitarian Assistance Financing Arrangements

Jordan and the UK on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding governing arrangements of financial support the British government is willing to present to the Jordan, added to the humanitarian assistance Britain has already provided to refugees through UN agencies, The Jordan Times reported.

The memo sets the arrangements of the UK’s financial support to the Kingdom under the Jordan Compact, one of the outcomes of the London donors conference that was held in February with joint presidency of the UK, Norway, the UN, Kuwait and Germany.

The memo, signed by Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Imad Fakhoury and UK Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel on behalf of their respective governments, would form a qualitative leap and lead to further development in bilateral relations, the ministry said in a statement.

The compact outlines Jordan’s plans to enhance the situation of Syrian refugees in Jordan and the international community’s pledges to help in this mission.

Fakhoury said the memo stipulates a financing package of up to £190 million to be spent on two priority plans, the first of which is the economic opportunities programme, based on the Jordan Compact, with a total value of £110 million.

The bulk of the sum, £80 million, is offered as a soft loan with zero percent interest rate, to be extended by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), he noted.

It is part of a package allocated for Jordan and Lebanon, through the Concessional Financing Facility (CFF), to support economic opportunities programme for Jordanians and Syrian refugees, the minister said, noting that CFF was launched in April by the World Bank, UN and the Islamic Development Bank, along with eight donor nations.

The CFF was established after intensive Jordanian efforts to help reduce the external lending costs from multilateral development banks, with the Kingdom being the first of the two countries to benefit from the initiative, Fakhoury added in the presence of Prime Minister Hani Mulki.

The second part of the economic opportunities programme involves a £30 million support to be presented as EBRD grants that are bundled with development loans extended by the bank (for example, allocating a grant and a soft loan to finance a certain project), he added.

Such a mechanism would help lower the cost of loans presented by EBRD, and make them softer (for example the Ain Ghazal wastewater plant), the minister noted.

The second priority programme is designed to support education, as stipulated in the compact. Jordan will receive £80 million as a grant to cover part of the expenses it incurs to accommodate Syrian students in public schools, Fakhoury announced.

The larger part of the fund will be provided to the government, while the rest will go to concerned UN and other agencies, with payments to be disbursed over four years as of 2016, the minister noted, adding that a separate agreement for each year would be signed with relevant parties.

Jordan counts on the simplified rules in attracting more foreign investments and generating more jobs (for Syrians and Jordanians), the premier said.

For her part, Patel stressed that the British government would honour its commitments towards Jordan, and maintain close cooperation with Amman as part of its response to the Syrian crisis.