We Are Pulling Through!

By Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Mon 6 February / Feb 2017. 01:00 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

It doesn’t seem like this is going to be a promising year for Jordan, economically speaking. The general feel of it is more pessimistic than positive, due to the culminated suffocating financial crisis, caused by both domestic and regional factors.

Mindfully, this isn’t the first time our economy pulls through an economic crisis peacefully.

We already know what needs to be done, no matter how hard it may be. Part of it is the government’s commitment to implementing the agreed programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in addition to their abidance by the 2017 Budget Plan, all the while making sure the public knows, and is convinced, that it is going to work out, and that it truly is for the greater good, in order to arrive at a consensus, socially.

Technically, we are already one month into the fiscal year. Still, the government has yet to decide on the procedures required to secure the final 2017 Budget figures, which include raising revenues by JOD450 million, in order to maintain the deficit at its current levels and prevent further expansion of public debt.

For whatever reason, delay will cost the Government to miss their Budget targets, which have been passed by parliament.

More so, missing these targets will reflect negatively on Jordan’s economic performance evaluation by the IMF, notwithstanding other international organisations; the Fund is still waiting to see the implementation of decisions that reiterate our government’s commitment to the jointly agreed financial plan.

Since the beginning of the year, the government increase JOD0.03 and JOD0.07 on the litre of Octane 90 and 95 of gasoline fuels, respectively, which are consumed annually at the rate of 1.2 billion and 200 million litres per year, correspondingly.

Notably, the increase was less on Octane-90 gasoline because most Jordanians use it, hence, it is intended to minimise the implications of these decisions on lower-income segments of the Jordanian society.

So far, that’s about it. No other government decisions have been made.

Meanwhile, the endeavour to find more income sources carries on.

Strangely enough, the telecommunications sector, already weighed by over-taxation, seems to have the government’s crosshair on its back. The exact details of possible increases on the sector’s services and products remains undisclosed.

Typically, neither the government nor the representatives of the sector know how to make more money out of it without incurring further harm!

One of the suggested methods entails doubling sales taxes on data and internet services, from 8 to 16 per cent. Which, according to experts and officials, is not going to bring in any significant amounts of money for the Treasury, compared to what is required; the total revenue from this is estimated at around JOD25 million, increasable in the future based on growth in demand.

As for the most important government step yet; restructuring the sales and income tax system, which cost the Treasury in terms of facilitated exemptions a total estimate of over JOD3 billion, annually, this should be done in a way that does not damage the impoverished, fixed-income, and middle class income segments of society.

That said, and done —hopefully, Jordan would still have to look for allies, brethren, and friends, to help us pull through. And so far as it seems, those will not abandon Jordan in such a difficult situation.

Bottom line is that Jordan can surely pull through this crisis the way we have before, and always have.

What is needed is for the government, however, to address the public more openly, accurately, and elaborately, explaining public policy, while reassuring the people of the positive outcomes of Jordan’s clever regional role, and that our sacrifices are not be our demise.

At the moment, we all share responsibility for making sure we cross this bridge to safety, in order to make it through 2017 in peace.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.