The Government’s Hole: Off on the Wrong Foot

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Wed 6 September / Sep 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Fahed Khitan

The government is in a whole, and is in on a rough ride for the next three months.

The initial reactions to the leaks on the proposed amendments to the income tax law is dangerous.

From the looks of it, collision with the parliament has already begun, and the tension in the streets omens of an imminent crisis.

In light of the circumstance, passing these amendments requires a political miracle.

Decision makers have already tested the waters, and have been paying close attention to the pulse of the people.

Public discontent over these suggested amendments is overwhelming, and we still have not even begun to discuss the 2018 budget bill.

To make it all worse, the government has failed to administrate the public debate and dialogue.

Typically, the Cabinet has been relying on the same traditional and obsolete communication channels as always, to address such extremely sensitive issues.

Not to mention the audacity and thee government’s complete disregard of public opinion.

More so, the dyscoordination among government bodies has only worsened the situation.

Needless to say, the government’s persistence on excision and taxation to address economic reforms is inconceivable and irrational.

However, this persistence has been characteristic of the government and its economic team in regards to addressing the public financial crisis.

Off the record, a ranking government official said that the tax bill will not pass the House of Representatives.

If anything, this means that the government knows, beforehand, the impossibility of this task.

So, why did the government reiterate its commitment to these amendments in front of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and why leak it to the public?!

This only intensifies public distrust in the government and endangers the 2018 Budget Bill, along with the future of the government itself!

Income tax amendments have all been a primary demand of the state, social forces, parties, and the opposition all the same.

So, why didn’t the government bring this up earlier to be discussed in parliament before the budget bill?

Make no mistake, the point is not for Mulqi’s government to drop its financial reforms plans. Controlling the budget deficient and public debt, as well as driving economic growth are the encompassing goals of all Jordanians.

The question however, is how to attain these goals at minimal social goals, and without further straining the middle class.

Not long ago, the Prime Minister, Dr Hani Mulqi, said in an interview that the government’s economic plans will directly and positively reflect on the people’ lives.

The events in these last few days suggest that the government has gotten off on the wrong foot, with an uncalculated, inconsiderate, outrageous move.

The government needs to brake ahead of the implosion and reconsider the entirety of the proposal.

Perhaps it would do the Cabinet well revaluate possible roadmaps towards a sounder outcome, by weighing the perils of this reckless adventure against the political and security odds of pushing for these amendments.

It would serve the government well to avoid any further major surprises, especially unpleasant ones.

I still stand by the assumption that any requirement for one year can be done in two, in order to alleviate some of the pressures Jordanians have been enduring for a while now.

There needs to be a sensible balance between the requirements of economic reforms and the basics for social and political stability in Jordan.

Meanwhile, international organisations like the IMF need to understand that Jordan should be awarded for the historic stand in the face of this devouring regional turmoil, which we had no part in!

Jordan’s stand has been miraculous, and we’ve made it through the storm, at only a fraction of the cost the rest of the world has had to pay, due to the collapse of nations around us.

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