The International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s statements on bread subsidies took the government by surprise, and it would seem that the Fund has had a sudden change of heart, for some reason.
The IMF has always considered commodity subsidisation an imbalance in public finances, so what changed?!
Unexpectedly, the IMF suddenly started demanding that the government keeps the subsidies, instead of suspending them, and they are claiming it is for the protection of the impoverished.
Frankly, I do not believe that, for a second, the IMF actually cares about people.
In fact, every single suggestion they ever made has damaged the impoverished, along with the lower, fixed and middle income segments of our society!
The IMF does not care about the impoverished or the middle class. This much is clear.
For the sake of this argument, let us suppose that the IMF suddenly realised that suspending bread subsidies is really going to hurt the less fortunate majority of Jordanians. Haven’t we been saying that all along?!
On the other hand, how does it all fit with their recommendations to raise taxes on manufactured foodstuff?
The implications of it are no less severe than floating bread prices.
Meanwhile, the IMF’s repetitive claims that so many Jordanians do not pay taxes have been all but inaccurate! One does not just dismiss the absurd amount of taxes and excisions Jordanians pay out of their incomes, when 72 per cent of them make less than JOD500 a month!
I do not think this abrupt change in mind is driven by concern over Jordanians!
After months of feeding us all this nonsense about caring, which is obviously not the case. So why is the IMF pressuring our government to drop the bread subsidies reform?
Here is what the IMF failed to admit, as transparent as they claim to be.
The decision to drop the subsidies reform was not driven by their concern for impoverished Jordanians, but for refugees!
The IMF just realised that dropping subsidies will raise the price of bread for some three million foreigners residing in Jordan, and they do not want that, do they.
Sadly, the Fund is not as honest and open as they claim to be.
They should have mustered the courage to speak the truth and defend their position, instead of hiding behind their made up concern for the welfare of Jordanians.
Just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with protecting the most unfortunate, war-struck refugees who took haven in our beloved Jordan. The problem is the IMF’s audacity to make it seem as though they care about the impoverished!
The IMF issued an evasive statement seeking to incite Jordanians to take on the cause for bread, hoping they would pressure the government, in an attempt to rectify their mistake.
Fortunately, for us, it did not play out as well as they thought.
As for the impoverished themselves, well, I doubt they even heard the Fund’s statements. They are deprived of their most simple of rights, and that includes access to information. Those who did hear the IMF speak, are the lower and middle-income segments.
Naturally, some of them rejoiced to the IMF’s position, seeing it as a victory.
Others see right through the deception of the Fund; that the international organisation has been blaming them for the impoverishment of their fellow Jordanians!
Honestly, these organisations are never balanced, nor are they capable of furthering any real, comprehensive solutions.
Another fact is that the IMF’s recipe doesn’t even come close to real reforms!
The IMF’s solutions do not address the root issues in our budget, e.g. overspending or the lack of capital expenditure. They also do not factor in the implications of such “reforms” on the impoverished and limited income segments, socially.
What is needed of the IMF, if they so intend to impose a solution, is to bring comprehensive, calculated suggestions to the table, instead of partial ones!
What we need is a custom-made, comprehensive economic reforms programme. So will the IMF provide one?!
In all of the IMF’s past adventures in Jordan, they never managed to have the people’s support.
This time, it seems the Fund has also lost the government. Once a provocation to the people, now a provocation to the state too.
So what is the state going to do?!
This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.