Why The Difficult Years?

By: Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Thu 19 May / May 2016. 12:00 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

The channels and means possible, through which our economy can be expedited from its current crisis, need time for their results to crystallise. This means that the Kingdom, until expected results come through, is to endure course years to come, which necessitates wise and precise domestic economic governance; a matter that poses the big question again, about the current economic team’s adequacy —should it deservingly be called a “Team— to get this critical task done effectively.

Prime among these channels, should donors make well on their promises and the potential outcomes; is comprised in the aid pledges of the London Donors regarding Syrian refuge in Jordan; European countries who convened in London aftermath the European panic of the influx of Syrian refugees stacking at their borders. The Conference pledged to provide Jordan with USD2.1 billion worth of aid, over three years, with the provision of loans totalling at USD5.7 billion, at low interest.

The “London” promises also include a USD1 billion grant for the construction of schools during the years of 2016-2018, as well as USD300 million to support the Kingdom’s public balance. Chiefly evident of the Conference’s conclusions, is that they preface for different economic structures in Jordan, and vast horizons pried open with the proposition to lighten the terms of the European Certificate of Origins, in regards to Jordanian products.

Three months have passed since the conference, and nothing has happened; no steps have been made towards the realisation of these promises. We do not know how much time it takes to get this done, especially since everybody with insights into the file, besides government officials, sees there to be considerable obstacle to the realisation of the London pledges.

Nonetheless, the London window remains open, and requires the convergence of work and effort to attain as much benefit of it as possible, even though it is not yet ripe for the full yield, still, this is typical of donor conferences; achievements often fall short of promises and expectations drawn out. That said, in the relative measure of time, the implementation of the conclusions of the London Donors Conference would require years, before the economy begins to yield returns.

The second channel, as a means to loosen the noose of the crisis, is represented in the Saudi-Jordan Collaboration Council, upon which the framework for the establishment of the Investment Fund has been agreed by both sides, to accordingly attract Saudi investments into vital Jordanian sectors assumed to be contributory to development. In any way, the projects upcoming of the Investment Fund will not be transformable into reality overnight, and would take, also, years before they are realised reflectively upon people.

In the meantime, the possibilities of the Gulf Grant’s renewal are limited, for objective reasons that have to do first with the drop of oil prices worldwide, and second, with the internal policies executed throughout Arab Gulf countries, annulling subsidies and imposing taxation, among other shifts in policy, in light of which the continuation of granting funds to other countries would be difficult, given the circumstance.

Another source of hope, possibly, is Iraq; particularly the defeat of ISIS in Anbar, Ratba included. This would reopen Jordan-Iraqi borders, retaining one of Jordan’s economic lungs —Syria and Iraq, choked for years now, with national exportation suffocated, damaging a wide range of sectors. The Anbar battle carries, with the current givens, a chance to be concluded, while hopes for the Jordan-Syrian borders reopening seem more farfetched.

It is unhealthy to raise the ceiling of expectations regarding all that is mentioned above hopes for Jordan’s economy. Wisdom demands that we balance things out accurately, as it seems superficially dangerous to rely on others to dilute the intensity of our crisis over the next few years. Everybody else is busy looking out for themselves first. And cooperating with them requires time for the prospects of such cooperation to mature and yield right.  Here lies the necessary challenge to turn within, to ourselves; and seek out a domestic recipe that would pull the country through this difficult phase.

Once more, the sky will not rain grants, and non-refundable aid will not flow unaccounted. We would have to redirect expenditures, primarily, and exploit the bliss of oil prices dropping to these comfortable levels. Something to not reoccur for years.