On the Health Committee’s Hearing!

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Tue 13 June / Jun 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Fahed Khitan

The media was not allowed to cover the meeting of the parliamentary health committee between ministers and government officials on the rotten chicken case.

However, Mahmoud Khatatba’s report for Jordan News Agency, Petra, shed a decently balanced light on the meet.

The meeting was more like a hearing session in one of the ancient parliaments.

This type of parliamentary accountability procedure is likely to entail heated debates and bold questioning of government officials.

Notably, this isn’t the first time the Parliamentary Health Committee convenes on a case of such public interest, regarding citizens health and food.

The MPs’ questions were mostly in the core, as intense as they were, and highly responsible.

The session was highly focused on gaps in the supervisory measures and systems and means to addressing it, in order to prevent its reoccurrence.

Moreover, the session also revisited the government’s supervisory and evaluation procedures in regards to how the case was handled by the official authorities.

In truth, the ministers’ and officials’ response, according to the report, was fitting of the scale of the scandal.

The Director of the Jordan Food and Drug Administration (JFDA), Dr Hayel Obeidat, did not hesitate to state his willingness to take public responsibility.

Nonetheless, Obeidat confirmed, the citing of this incident does not, at all, mean that our food is rotten, and he backed his claim with stats on the scale of confiscated rotten foodstuff.

The Ministers of health, interior, agriculture, and trade and supply all showed respectable resolve.

Clearly, the committee is not going to tolerate noncompliance to standard procedure in regards to such a serious issue.

Mentionable is the fact the Prime Minister is the one who set this case in motion immediately, the moment the case was reported.

All of the parties involved where held, by his orders, until they were trialled.

Generally speaking, the hearing itself is an important precedent, but the notations and observations of the officials who attended are invaluably so.

The officials’ notes should not be neglected, especially those regarding negligent behaviour, shortcoming monitory mechanisms, and lacking employee qualifications.

It is of the utmost importance, to all, to document these observations and entail them in a detailed, separate report, to help put together suitable correctional measures.

Standard procedures should meet the international measure and specs on such a vital issue as food, as put by Chairman of the Health Committee Ibrahim Bani Hani.

Food safety regulations need to be revisited in order to ensure that the JFDA’s operation is unobstructed.

It is crucial too that JFDA is supplied with higher qualifications and recruits, several MPs have said.

Along these lines, the House of Representatives should get on with the formulation of a new JFDA monitory and inspection bill of regulation on the double.

The MPs should effort to minimise the layers of bureaucracy and consolidate monitory authorities in order to expedite operations.

This is especially true as field reports show that the multitude of monitory parties actually hurts commercial activity, let alone overlapping authorities.

A while ago, during the MPs last term, the bill of new JFDA regulations was actually on the House’s schedule.

Soon, the MPs will discuss this bill during their next extraordinary session next month.

Hopefully, it will be passed.

In short, the point is to say that the debates which took place during the hearings should mark the trail for the future, so long as the legal process takes its course.

The two courses of the judiciary and the parliamentary authority do not contradict.

More so, the MPs’ recommendations must be translated into a government action plan, in order to give this case a reformist positive discourse and context.

It would also help restore some of the confidence in our food sector, which has been shook by various incidents over the recent years.

Institutions and communities learn from their mistakes, instead of basking in the glory and of condemning corruption.

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