Computers to be exempted from sales tax, says Jordan ICT Minister

It was Déjà vu time. Jordan’s tech and telecom industry had a big lunch meeting with the Minister of ICT Bassem Rousan on Wednesday. All the old faces of the industry where there. It felt like 2000/2001 but minus the excitement and optimistic spirit which characterized Jordan’s IT drive earlier in the decade.

Sure enough, the minister seems intent on spreading the ‘culture of the internet’ in Jordan, although he admitted to never having visited YouTube. But maybe in his own, non-flashy way, he will help the IT sector move forward.

One announcement he made, drawing applause from the audience, was when he revealed that, soon, computers will be exempted from sales tax. This should translate in a 16% drop in computer prices in the Kingdom. That’s always welcome news.

He also talked about the necessity of creating Arabic content, if the average Jordanian family is to be convinced to bring the internet into the home. The responses that came from the audience ranged from the stale to the nonsensical. Even the presence of more academics in the crowd this time did not help the discussion much.

You want content? I mean, just look at Wikipedia. They are neither a government nor a huge corporation. They are the facilitators of knowledge sharing for a community that WANTS to share and that has something to share in the first place. It is clear that this is a cultural, not financial nor technical issue. (Most of) our Arab academics are lazy. They just want to finish their lectures, engage in petty departmental wars and go home to eat. Same goes for students and corporate employees.

The minister said that the ICT Ministry has a scientific research fund for any company interested but that very few companies even bothered to inquire about it. I am not surprised.

There seems to be a drive by the ministry to lower internet access prices. That’s great too. Let’s hope it happens sooner rather than later.

Another round of applause came when the minister rebuffed a commenter who suggested, in all seriousness, that Jordan should start censor the internet like Saudi Arabia (as a solution for parents who are afraid their kids would access improper content).

All in all, it just feels our ICT sector is out of steam. Sure it has grown and it is a good source of export revenue and employment. But whatever spark the industry had is gone. It’s hard to name a breakthrough by company or product that made it big globally or regionally. Even all the back and forth visits by Google Executives to Jordan have not resulted in the promised presence in Jordan.

But the food at the Four Season was good.

(And cheaper computers are good too).

The Jordan Times covered the event too..

4 Responses to “Computers to be exempted from sales tax, says Jordan ICT Minister”

  1. Nadine Says:

    Jordan really needs to get into the One Laptop Per Child program – which is an incredible educational opportunity using a $199 amazing low cost connected laptop. Once we start with the very young with such an educational device, there is hope they will embrace the content opportunity and grow up with and grow it!

  2. Sandman Says:

    No 16% Tax in Jordan means that retailers will increase their profit margin by 16% and prices will remain the same for the end user, the $1 USD = 1 JD pricing formula will remain intact, mark my words.

  3. tero Says:

    @Sandman, you said it right. and unfortunatly i dont think anybody will keep an eye on the stores.

    also jordan’s economy heavily depends on customs, so i dont think we will see a progress in IT here :)

  4. samah Says:

    hmm, one laptop per child??
    I would think there are more fundemental issues to focus on with child education, what I would imagine a child to do with a laptop in jordan would include:gaming, porn, downloading music…muslim recruitment sites …(ahhh) I am sure you can run a long list of pretty useless / dangerous things.
    I would like to be more optimistic, but the reality keeps the darn thoughts looming.
    but maybe they can start with thinking how to make sure this ‘child’ will use the internet intelligently towards this goal of realizing the full potential. Better education, independent learning, change the curricula would be a start. Teach the teachers something new…..

    I know a bit late following the stories…. but…

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