The Missing Link in the Gov’t Rhetoric

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Tue 17 October / Oct 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Fahed Khitan

The government is operating according to a comprehensive plan, laid out early on, to communicate its financial and economic reforms programme for 2018 to the public.

Part of this plan includes the Prime Minister’s meetings with MP blocks, commercial and industrial representatives, and launching dialogue. In the meantime, members of the Cabinet meet with parties and respective organisations, to help balance the rhetoric out politically.

Notably, the debate on this programme will continue well into the beginning of 2018, through the Parliamentary sessions on next year’s Public Budget Bill to its ratification.

The highlight of the government’s programme, as the people see it, is price hikes. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the political onslaught against the government will recede until the amendments are passed.

Meanwhile, it is too early to tell whether the government has the capacity to secure any public support for its reforms programme.

Naturally, price hikes rarely ever find favour among the people, here or elsewhere.

However, the government does have an opportunity to poke a sizeable hole in the public’s rejection wall and all this resistance to the pending decisions.

It would serve this purpose well if the government focused on its plans for serve and developmental agendas for 2018.

Talking about the price hikes, trying to justify them, without explaining to the people where the additional revenues are going, will not convince the people. As far as people see it, there is no reason to suspend subsidies.

It is crucial that the government sheds light on development plans just as much as it is important to justify the hikes, if not more.

There are dozens of developmental projects to be funded by the allocations to be made available through the increase in tax revenue. These projects include developments in the health, education, and transportation sectors, and all of it is worth discussing.

People are dying to know where the government’s money is going, figuratively speaking of course, and they would be interested in the government’s plans. More than they would be in the government’s justifications, clearly.

So far, there are three major government hospitals under construction in three different governorates, worth in total no less than JOD100 million. Not to mention a fourth hospital in Aqaba, pending review to begin construction works.

Interest aside, citizens have the right to know exactly where their tax money goes.

To what end and to whose benefit are the millions upon millions going?! What will change for them over the next year? Will their schools have larger classrooms? New buildings? Medical centres? Roads? Care centres? Jobs?

What is in it for the citizen?

There are councils in the governorates now, representing citizens in the developmental decision making process, and municipality councils with major challenges. The authorities must launch a comprehensive developmental workshop alongside these bodies to arrive at a cooperative dynamic that will ensure the delivery of results. Not just on paper.

Jordanians must feel and see their lives becoming better as the year unfolds, along with its planned projects.

There are plenty of feasible project proposals and tenders for various Jordanian cities, towns, and governorates, all provide investors with promising opportunities.

If the government truly wants the citizen to share its optimism for the future, they should shed more light on it!

In other words, focusing on the price hikes will not help raise public acceptance, nor will it convince citizens to look forward.

The government has to develop a different public rhetoric and tone, one that brings to light all the promises of next year!

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