By Fahed Khitan

What About the People!

The Minister of Investment Affairs, Muhannad Shehadah, chairman of the investment commission, uncovered a series of procedures intended to facilitate the registration of new investment projects.

Among numerous procedures to save time and effort for investors, the Minister portrayed five new strategies to encourage investment in several sectors.

Surely, this is an excellent step forward.

In fact, we want more steps of the sort to help Jordanian and foreign investors whom have always complained about the procedural complications and the paperwork drag-on.

For a long time, investors have spoken about the stale and obsolete bureaucracy in Jordan, which is driving investments away.

While these steps are indeed positive, it is crucial that the government lays out a parallel programme to ease procedures out for the public.

Citizens, needless to say, suffer the same staleness and complications.

Mindfully, public sector development is among the government’s top priorities; the Public Sector Development Ministry is working closely with other departments to slim and facilitate bureaucratic procedures and expand the e-government project.

Just this month, the government announced the digitisation of several government services.

The path, however, is long, towards the full digitisation of government services.

In the meantime, there is so much the government can do to make provided services easier for citizens, until the e-gov project is concluded.

It isn’t just the time it takes to get a certain task done, or a particular government document issued. It is a question of whether or not some of the entailed procedures are even necessary in the first place.

Many of these procedures can be integrated in one place.

Hundreds of citizens go to renew their maids’ residencies every day.

Can you imagine the scale of the drag-on required to get such a simple, routine task done; the bureaucracy of it?!

Applicants have to visit three different departments; the public health department of diseases, to carry out blood-tests, the department of labour, and then the respective police precinct.

It takes no less than five days to get such a routine task done.

Blood tests for maids whom have just had their blood tested no more than a year before?

In terms of contracting dangerous diseases, Jordan is a far safer environment than many other places, including some of the maids’ countries of origin!

So, what’s the point?!

It takes two days to get the results of the blood test, which are necessary for the next phase of the procedure; the labour department.

Jordanians don’t receive such healthcare!

Now, if a citizen decides to spare themselves the futility of this trouble, they’d have to  pay at least JOD70 to the labour importation office, to see through this baffle which ends with the payment of JOD850.

If it were about the money, as it is being said, then why can’t we just pay it all to one party and get it over with?!

Another example is the issuance of Smartcard IDs.

Since the launch of the project, six months ago, the government is still unable to guarantee the issuance of the Smartcard ID on the same day.

In other departments in Jordan, documents are issued at a much faster pace, as if they were electronic transactions, like the vehicle licencing or civil affairs departments.

So what’s stop other departments from doing the same thing?!

Until we arrive at the full-scale of the e-government project, we suggest that the government puts together committees within the departments of state to review and cut short procedural drag-on.

We should care as much about making people’s lives easier, as we do investors!

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

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