To Avoid Further Disappointments

By: Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Wed 4 May / May 2016. 12:00 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

Many inquiries recur to the people’s minds on the Saudi-Jordanian Collaboration Council, on adequacy to successfully manage this file, and how it is to reflect positively on the investment environment in the Kingdom.

The phone call between King Abdullah II and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the day before yesterday; exploring relations between the two countries and means to deepen them, including following through in the establishment of the Collaboration Council, next to reassurances on the Saudi King’s part, Salman bin Abdul Aziz, on the depth of ties between Jordan and Saudi Arabia, during the most recent Saudi Cabinet meeting, all comprise a bundle of messages from decision makers, in both kingdoms, reaffirming the seriousness of the intentions to get things done. Followed afterwards with the official signing of the memorandum of understanding, with the appointment of Prime Minister, Dr Abdullah Nsoor, to delegate Jordan on the Council, with the whole file reassigned to the capacities of the government, whose dedication and attention in this regard is demanded, in order to work on the construction of mutually, realisable beneficial arrangement.

The first of the foremost domestic step, has to do with the “Sovereign Investment Fund Law” bill, underway by the government for the past 7 months almost, and passed just days ago, prefacing referral to House of Representatives; renewing the possibilities for an extraordinary Parliamentary term, or an extension on the current one, aimed to particularly pass this legislation.

The legislation bill, in detail, has yet to be declared to the public to be deliberated, especially on whether or not it is fair for both parties; in terms of balancing the domestic benefits of inbound investment with the needed protection for investors and profitability.

However, so far as stories go, domestic Jordanian capital; banks and investment companies particularly, will be allowed to partake in the investments of the Fund the bill is intended to establish, in order to increase the national share of capital in these investments. This is next to the previously reassured term on the expected bill to safeguard Jordanians rights to employment.

Yet, posing at the point regarding new privileges to be granted on the establishment of these investments, notably; this creates a leverage over current and standing investments. This experiment is not new to Jordan; there were designated and qualified industrial areas with privileges inaccessible to other investments and establishments. Then came developmental areas with special considerations. A new framework, in some sense, or category of privileges is not such a bad idea long as it comes in line with the discourse of creating jobs for Jordanians.

More so, while Jordan-Saudi ties did bring about the establishment of a joint investment fund, but seeing through the success of such an endeavour requires sizeable execution; Saudi capital to be invested in Jordan, intends to find return and yield profit off this investment in Jordan.

Thus, to perfect our part, the government has to prepare well. First, the government has to pass a legislation that guarantees the rights of both sides; the investors and the investees. Second, these investments must take a concretely developmental discourse, which necessitates —third— the preparation of projects with added value to investors as well as to the developmental course of Jordan.

Accordingly, there are several vital target sectors; respective ministries, and ministers, are then required to prepare a multitude of profitable, beneficial developmental proposals to be presented to Saudi investors, and be appealing to their investments.

Typically, above all; the energy sector tops the stack. The Ministry of Water and Irrigation could also make use of financing some projects, like the “Bahrein Channel” and others. And there are massive opportunities before the ministries of Transportation and Tourism to expand investment basis to foster family tourism, especially with preliminary news coming on a gigantic investment in Aqaba.

The relationship with Saudi Arabia, in its new form, requires a new mind-set to successfully run it, given that attracting foreign investment has become difficult with the current coarse regional circumstance. Attracting Arab capital is much easier than attracting European capital whose investors cannot tell the difference between Syria and Jordan; to them, they are both part of one Middle East turmoiled in war.

This however, does not dismiss the many challenges of attracting Arab investment, which is a responsibility for the government, and to its own interests; as it is crucial for the current one, and the ones to follow, and it is also in its benefit, and to upholding their oath, that they run this file carefully, attentively, and very wisely, so as to avoid further disappointments.