After the Premier’s Interview

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Wed 14 February / Feb 2018. 01:00 AM
  • Fahed Khitan

In the midst of the public outrage, the outcry for the government’s resignation, and the Parliament’s, the Prime Minister decided to go live and face the people.

Dr Hani Mulqi gave an interview, live, on Tuesday, trying to explain to the people his government’s decisions and the reasoning behind them. He gave special attention to why the government pushed to pass the most recent bundle of harsh economic decisions.

During the interview, the Premier answered many questions, including inquiries about his health and the remainder of his treatment.

Next Sunday, the House of Representatives will vote on the motion to withdraw confidence in the government.

So far, it is unclear whether or not the vote to will be postponed, but Mulqi sounded confident the government will pass it. He even agreed to be held accountable for the performance of his government by the end of the current year, 2018.

The question is: did the interview help shift public opinion?

If we rely on the public’s response to the interview on social media to conclude the answer to this question, then simply speaking “no”. The interview did not shift the public’s perception of the government.

Still, activists online call for the government’s resignation. Others made fun of Mulqi, his government and the interview altogether.

Nothing indicates the people have begun to process or digest the government’s position.

Instead of discussion the details and messages of the interview, they took it all for gigs.

The interview came at a precise moment, charged with outrage as most Jordanians have cultivated a negative perception of the government. So bad that no official will be able to engage in a serious, objective and calm conversation with the public, especially after the recent decisions.

Now it’s just pointless/

The decisions Mulqi’s government made were tough. Every statesman and decision maker knew what to expect.

As ever as I am convinced of the constant necessity to communicate with the people, I think we all know that no matter how sound the reasoning is, the public will never support these decisions.

There is no way the public, now, will agree to a decision that makes their lives only so much more difficult!

The best option, as opposed to an extended pointless debate, is that the elite decision makers get together to come up with a bundle of socio-economic policies to help people cope.

There are still repercussions of these decisions we have yet to deal with. These policies will reflect on a multitude of tiers, including investment, which is already stalling.

More bold decisions are needed to accelerate reforms in multiple sectors and combating corruption.

More importantly, the government needs to set a clear agenda, with performance indices and goals, realistic ones, to achieve this year. Especially in the fields of employment and supporting SMEs in the governorates.

The government should have prepared an economic reform plan to carry out alongside the fiscal reforms programme; there are many plans and in the drawers just sitting there.

Of course, this may require fundamental reshuffles in the members of Cabinet.

Such tasks require competencies of exceptional calibre.

However, it all depends on the premier’s confidence in his ability to remain in office until the end of the year.

Another bundle of decisions, ones that would help the citizens cope, would have helped Mulqi before the interview, as well as after.

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