The Peril of What Lies Ahead !

By Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Sat 8 October / Oct 2016. 12:00 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

During his first meet with the chief editors of Jordanian daily newspapers last Thursday, Prime Minister Dr Hani Mulqi sought to convey his position and views on the multitude of issues at hand; beginning with the Israeli natural gas importation deal, the school curriculum reforms, all the way through the relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the recent developments on the Jordan-Saudi investment fund.

The premier carried on explaining the government’s decisions throughout the 4 month period, expressing conviction in decisions made, even in regards to the most sensitive issues; particularly the Israeli gas question. He confirmed that signing the agreement serves only the best interests of Jordan, and the sustenance of energy security. That is beside the point of whether or not his opinion is convincing to the opposing public, especially those basing their rejection on estimations of the strategic perils this agreement entails on Jordan’s present and future; the reliance on gas from Israel, against which protests of different sorts carry on still.

Furthermore, even among members of the Cabinet themselves, there is an evident incoherence, which may lead to issues and maybe even confrontations breaking out among ministers. On this matter, Mulqi reasserted that his crew is highly homogeneous.

Of course, the premier spoke to us about the ties to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), alongside other issues on the attractiveness of Jordan’s economy and its strength; the fiscal policy for example, in addition to going by means through which a variety of economic problems are to be addressed in order to attain targeted development.

Mulqi took his time, and made clear his and his government’s positions on the vast range of issues at hand, which confirms his realisation and awareness of the scale of challenge they are up against, and the anticipation that follows. However, this awareness does not necessarily mean the currently placed policies can indeed attain the target milestones expected of his second government.

Even though he tried to present his case, attempting to convince the public of the fruitfulness of his and his Cabinet’s endeavours, this does not change the fact that the premier has yet to arrive at the real challenges; the hard part yet to begin! Contestation of the gas agreement escalates subtly, but surely, with the trust battle at the gates, which in turn is not expected to be easy given the formation of the new House of Representatives. That, in addition to all other issues on the table.

One particular issue that is definitely going to irritate public opinion, is the closing inclination to implement the electricity pricing strategy to suspend public power subsidies, which will lead to tariff increases as soon as oil exceeds USD55 per barrel. This means that the public have also the issue of electricity price increases to look out for; in spite of all government reassurances that the raises will barely be tangible, reaffirming minimal implications to the lower income social segments, given that for every dollar increased per barrel of oil in cost, no more than one Fils will be raised on electricity tariffs, according to official figures.

Nonetheless, it remains a fact that Mulqi is unlike previous prime ministers in general, given he had not been in direct confrontation with the Representative House of MPs, but has been granted an extended free time to build relations with the MPs and communicate with them, within the manoeuvre margin that would allow him to prepare for them, to at least lower intensity of the confrontation, even though this is barely enough to constitute a successful passage through the rites of confidence.

Nowadays, Mulqi address us under the pressures of complicated conditions factoring his arrival as Prime Minister. Despite that, Mulqi speaks freely, and autonomously, un-weighed by the House, and with perhaps a sense of apathy to the dissatisfied public opinion. However, as surely the premier knows, what is ahead is far more difficult, because society will not sit back for long, and soon, the public’s opinions on the government’s performance will crystallise, unaided —most certainly— by the difficult domestic condition, as well as the regional situation, let alone the complicated and destabilised global setting.

All governments get off on big cheers, promises, optimism, and countless letters of vigour to reassure their intention to work, and work hard; but, their realities and facts unravel with time, to show the results of their work, and their performance. One would never know what Mulqi might say 6 months from now, nor how long will he be able to maintain his spirit!