Partial Solutions Will Not Suffice!

By Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Sat 25 November / Nov 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

Indeed, these are extraordinary times, the like of which we have never seen.

Our economic crisis could not have come at a worse time, given the intensity of the regional turmoil and the fluctuations in regional alignments.

Never has Jordan been in more dire need to find economic solutions to build for sustainable self-reliance mechanism and get the budget under control.

Hence, we welcome the government’s declarations, but the question remains, as always, how are we going to achieve economic sufficiency and self-reliance?

What solutions does the government have in mind, other than the ones they have already proposed?!

So far, the government has not made any reasonable recommendations.

In fact, the government’s only suggestions are to raise sales taxes, drop income tax exemptions and de-subsidise bread.

Needless to say, those are outrageous suggestions, given the current situation, and they cost us a lot more than just money!

While self-reliance and auto-sufficiency are exactly what we need, truth be told, we will need far more than just a catchy slogan to realise these goals.

Above all, there is the economic aspect to consider.

Given the recession in foreign aid and the suspension of the Gulf Grant, we must begin to address, promptly, the many imbalances in our budget, in order to advance fiscal reforms.

Of course, this entails various difficult decisions.

However, as well as agree that these imbalances are indeed severe, it would be wise to consider more comprehensive and incorporated solutions, as opposed to partial ones.

Financial and fiscal self-reliance are not attainable by further taxation and excisions, nor by applying more pressures on the taxpayer’s already-frail incomes.

It sounds, most of the times, as though the state-citizen relationship is a one-way stream these days; the citizens pay their dues while their rights are usually a subject to debate, discussion and procrastination.

In regards to the tax exemptions, how is it that everybody making JOD2,000 a month and less are placed under one income strata?

Where else is this case?

Nonetheless, the government has been claiming that these reforms are inevitable, especially in light of the current regional and domestic situation, under the pressures of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s agreement.

By blaming it all on the IMF, perhaps the government thinks they can pressure people enough to let it pass.

In all honesty, it is more difficult than the government believes, especially in the light of widening ridge between the state and society and the sense of helplessness.

The fact is that advancing auto-sufficiency in Jordan requires a comprehensive vision on all tiers of governance; political, economic and social.

Of course, if the government suffices with these reforms, to pass these difficult decisions, it would have come across as a big sham to the people. To compensate for the agitation, which is inevitable, the government should work out an incorporated approach to political development and party life, in order to include Jordanians in the decision making process. This would help restore a healthy relationship between the citizen and the state, which is indispensable at this point.

The crisis is indeed economic, true. However, overcoming it, after all, requires more than just harsh and strict economic measures and partial solutions.

It is crucial that the government addresses the situation holistically, through labour market reforms, middle class restoration, and fundamental solutions to addressing poverty and unemployment.

On the other hand, the government must work on restoring the authority and prestige of state instructions and the rule of law, while advancing civil and human rights. It would be wise to revisit excessive authoritative measures enforced in certain situations too.

There is only one way to arrive at self-sufficiency, and it cannot be done without a good state-citizen relationship.

So long as the decision making process is unilateral, the citizen will always be distrustful, and the relationship between taxpayers and the state will always be strained.

Once again, solutions to such a complex problem can never be partial.

Even though the issue in core is indeed fiscal and economic, the solution is almost always political.

It is vital that the citizen believes in the concessions and sacrifices they make, and that it is all worth their while.

Naturally, this doesn’t come from unilateral policy-making processes.

This comes only from citizen engagement in decision making, to include taxpayers in an elaborate, encompassing effort to finally set the country back on the right track.

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

Comment