The flux on social media over the statements of the Minister of Finance, even after the Prime Minister recapped, regarding the measures adapted to secure the additional JOD450 million to support the 2017 Budget Bill, built like wildfire.
The bills ratified include increasing taxation and unify sales tax on commodities, coupled with some increases on fees, like passport renewal fees, and an increase in the baseline prices of fuel and oil derivatives, in addition to some annulments in the tax and medical exemption systems. The Prime Minister, though, insisted that the subsidies on household gas are unlikely to be removed, as opposed to what the Minister of Finance stated.
Government officials say that this is all that can be done to protect the budget and secure revenue in order to address the current crisis, and see no other way out of the predicament to control the deficit and cease the growth of public debt at the levels of 94 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product. Also, they are complaining —always— of the negative public opinion of the government’s approaches, claiming that people do not understand the scale of the financial calamity Jordan is enduring.
Indeed, there is a general negativity. But where does our negativity come from?!
The economic condition affects the general mass of the citizenry; the rates of unemployment leaping well above official disclosures, reaching 14 per cent last year, with 40 per cent of our youth, according to some estimations, unemployed.
Notwithstanding the weight of the economic condition and its reflection on the public mood, the major dimmer today is the weakness in public policy, which have surfaced even clearer under the premiership of Dr Hani Mulqi and his government; the utter absence of the political mechanism and dynamic. The Cabinet throw in their decisions without even bothering to explain them to the people, and have the audacity to demand that people respond to their solutions and even thank them for ‘a job well done’… really?! How about a round of applause too!!
Seriously, what on earth did they expect?!
The political indifference has gotten to the point that the Prime Minister almost doesn’t even care about the public opinion; it has become unbelievably unreasonable.
Naturally, this would reflect on the public opinion. Actually, never have I seen a government as indifferent to the public as is Mulqi’s!
No preparation or communication with media or columnist; no attempts to explain or justify the economic measures adopted. The poli-economic dynamic is completely out of spin. The government merely suffices with undisclosed sidebar negotiations —mind you— with the Parliamentary financial committee on the budget, and that’s it!
The government did not address the public; did not devise their political and media instruments. If the government’s own economic crew does not prepare to address the House of Representatives and the public on the actuality of the economic and financial situation, who will?!
Of course, this does not mean —at all— that the catastrophe of this is merely a matter of public relations and political engagement and communication; no. There is a real problem in transparency and governance, as much as there is a failure to reinforce the private sector and investment in order to strengthen and sustain the middle and —subsequently— impoverished classes of society.
Additionally, the economic identity of Jordan remains ambiguous and lacking clear distinct basis; there is an unhealthy incursion of economic freedom on the basic enablers of social justice.