The Premise of Partnership: Actions Speak Louder than Words

By Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Sun 3 December / Dec 2017. 03:24 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

Every day, we shed the light on at least one Jordanian success story.

If anything, we have always been proud of our own and the expertise they bring to industries around the world. Be it in the fields of science, technology or otherwise, Jordanians have made countless contributions to the modern day world in which we live.

Our youth are indeed indispensable to the future of our nation; that much we know to be true. They are an asset we have taken so lightly over the years, when clearly we should not!

For as long as we can remember, the government has insisted that our Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector is a “real” Jordanian success story. For years, the government has been saying that we need to focus on the ICT sector, and support its progress, because information technology is a key element in modern economies!

Theoretically speaking, it all sounds good.

There is no arguing the fact that ICT is the underlying infrastructure of modern economy, or that it is the core revolutionary industrial catalyst for progress. If ever we want to a place for us in the world of tomorrow, information technology is the way to go!

However, what good is theory when it is not realised in action?

The same goes for every other sector the government has been calling to support, investment too, as well as SMEs and other vital economic sectors.

Despite all the fancy talk about encouraging investment, the truth is actually quite frustrating and disappointing!

The government is neither encouraging investment nor supporting it, let alone the domestic economy.

In fact, it is quite the opposite.

There are countless hurdles to doing business in Jordan, put aside the sickening bureaucracy.

The fact than 70 garment factories have relocated to Egypt these last three years are current proof of the government’s inadequacy, in regards to investment support and encouragement.

Of course, what else does the government expect?

Naturally, the higher the taxes the less attractive the business environment is, and it doesn’t end here!

Another, even more frustrating incident was just brought to our attention; it seems the Ministry of ICT has been blocking the Jordanian ICT companies from applying for the “SmartCard Management Solutions” tinder, in favour of foreign corporations.

Mind you, this is not a rumour.

The Head of Int@j, a national Jordanian ICT companies association, Dr Bashar Hawamdeh, blew the lid on this case. He explicitly stated that the government’s justifications for blocking local businesses from the bid are insensible!

Perhaps we need to remind the minister that she came from the same sector she’s now blocking, after all the things she said about supporting it!

Times over, she said that the local sector is just as competent and competitively advantageous as foreign companies are. Does she need to be reminded of what she said, or has she given up on the sector?

Perhaps she now thinks that the sector she herself oversees is not competitively competent to run such an operation. If that is truly the case, then she must admit to the shortcomings of the sector, as well as her own failure to develop its competitive capacities, not to mention explain the situation, convincingly and transparently!

What the minister did should not be taken lightly or overlooked as a meaningless gesture, because it is not! It speaks volumes about just how much confidence the government has in the domestic private sector!

In a promise of partnership, actions speak far louder than words!

The minister’s block is an outright confession that the sector is incapable of handling such sensitive operations, and that she has failed to develop it.

If so, then what has the minister been doing these past few years? What has she done to advance the sector’s competitive capacities?

What is the point of it all if the sector still cannot compete with foreign companies in the local marketplace, let alone in the globalised and regional marketplace!

The minister’s decision, honestly, delivered a devastating blow to the ICT sector, as well as the supposed partnership between the public and private sectors! This comes at the time when our government is relying on the private sector to carry out projects worth hundreds of millions!

Among many things, this brings the entire premise of partnership to the ground; it ruins the private sector’s trust in the government, never mind the toll this may take on the economy!

Make no mistake, the issue is far bigger than Int@j’s tinder submission not getting through. The bigger problem here is the business and investment environment itself, and the marginalisation of domestic businesses and expertise in favour of international companies!

So far, the Minister has chosen to deny responsibility for the whole thing.

It would seem as though the pioneer Minister, once at the very heart of the ICT sector, having advocated its empowerment for years, is now working against it! Clearly, as the leading Jordanian economic sector, she should be supporting it, not blocking it!

In truth, it does not make sense!

Either the sector is not ready, and the minister has failed, or the minister is actively blocking the sector in favour of foreign companies; for reasons unknown, tearing hope for partnership to shreds!

The least she can do is explain the entire situation!

This is a message to the minister who has always called for the support of Jordanian companies; why stop now? Are you disappointed in the outcomes of your own work, minister?

Somebody has to answer these questions above, and the minister is the only one who can and should answer all them!

All we are hoping for is the transparency, and of course, the truth that Jordanian businesses and citizens, alike, deserve!

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