Premiers defenses’ collapse

تم نشره في Thu 10 July / Jul 2014. 01:25 PM - آخر تعديل في Thu 10 July / Jul 2014. 01:25 PM

By Jumana Ghunaimat

During a cabinet meeting on Monday, Prime Minister Dr. Abdullah Ensour expressed his anger at the leak of details of previous Sunday’s meeting regarding the deal to buy Najib Mikati’s stake at the Royal Jordanian (RJ) group.

The premier expressed his annoyance frankly to the Council of Ministers as a dissatisfaction with the publication of information he believes should not be published, at least for the time being. He was so annoyed with it he talked about launching an investigation to uncover who leaked the information.

With respect to the prime minister, the idea shows the collapse of his defenses within his team, and the inability of the latter to keep secrets, but it is normal after a year and a half at the "Fourth Circle". On the other hand, the incident confirms that the media was able to achieve the penetration required to obtain the information, specifically when it comes to an issue as important as RJ and its future.

The premier is within his rights to be upset, and he is also within his rights when he admonishes his team for leaking information; if it was a normal and acceptable, it would not have been described as leaks.

However, at the end of the day, it is normal, at least from the perspective of the media who struggle to get the information, which the Minister of Information, as far as circumstances permit, tries to provide, including information on the crisis in Iraq and the declaration of Caliphate, among others.

There is another side to the story, regarding the everlasting contentious relationship between governments and media — this is not the first time, nor the last, that media managed to penetrate the gates of the state. There are many stories that can be listed in this section for prime ministers who have been subjected to the same story during the past decade.

Control of information is no longer possible, especially about sensitive issues that need to be handled with absolute transparency, without seeking to hide the facts, especially as this approach and style had disastrous results in the past; impression where born that lack of transparency is definitely structural, created to cover up for imbalances and violations. An impression that is not necessarily true.

Transparency and disclosure are the key. Had they existed, the country could avoid many suspicious transactions that ended in the courts as corruption files, and Jordanians still count them when they talk about violations.

Back to Mikati, there does not seem to be a violation in the story; the government was considering buying a stake at RJ, at a price higher than its market value by about six million dinars, and that was no secret. The value of the transaction is estimated at 16 million dinars, exceeds the market value of the stake, which is estimated at approximately 9.8 million dinars.

But the great issue was that the government did not try, not even once, to explain the rationale to the public opinion, at least to solicit a stance thereon; the funds of the treasury, in the end, does not belong to the government, but it is taxpayers' money who have a right to know the fate and channels used for its spending, and this is the least expected gesture of respect the government can show the people.

What happened is that the government thought and decided on buying Mikati’s stake, and it seems that today it has postponed the deal; all of this always happens without us knowing the reasons behind them, and without hearing from the relevant ministers, particularly the finance and transport, not even one word.



This article is an edited translation from the Arabic edition.