By Fahed Khitan

The Government’s Emergency Plan

Undoubtedly, the government is grateful for the House of Representatives’ leniency, or perhaps even obedience.

In just one day, the House passed the government’s General Budget Bill for the year 2018, despite the variety of unpopular measures entailed in it, and in record time.

By doing so, they granted the executive authority the time to implement the decisions they think would up treasury revenues to help tackle deficit and debts in the light of receding grants and financial support.

On one hand, I think the Speaker was right to cut the time for MP statements short for blocks and independent representatives. Spinning the debate out for days would raise the public’s expectations. Eventually, the outcome would be the same, but with expectations built up, chances are the House would fall under heavier public scrutiny and criticism.

Technically, the Budget debate is behind us, and the government’s challenge is achieving what they promised the MPs and the vast audience of Jordanians.

In return for the great price Jordanians are going pay out of their own pockets, they expect the economic situation would lighten up, overall. Now, more than ever, the government must keep its promises.

One way of reconciling with citizens is tackling underdeveloped and deteriorated sectors that matter to the public. Reforms that reflect almost instantaneously on people’s lives. The government should declare a state of high emergency and double up on these reforms.

Chief among these sectors are transportation, employment, education, administrative reforms and investment encouragement. The government already have plans and strategies to tackle issues in these sectors. They should immediately work on translating these strategies into action plans and policies with set timelines and assign teams for the implementation of the projects as soon as possible.

What is stopping us from reforming the labour market for example and nationalising some two hundred thousand jobs, to say the least, currently filled by foreigners, within the year?

The education reform plan is right on track, but it needs acceleration to have direct effect on the schools and universities. This includes new curriculums and expanding the teachers training programme. Also, much can be done to improve the school environment and redirect to developing schools in the less fortunate areas with less income capacities.

What is stopping us from forming a council of private sector representatives and officials, put their expertise to work towards overcoming obstacles hindering new investment? What is stopping us from tackling issues in the investment sector and resolving the complications that investors face in Jordan? What is stopping us, also, from expanding our exports and direct investment towards exportation in this field?

The transportation sector is also in a terrible state. We have yet to save it from falling into chaos, confusion and overlapping authorities. Meanwhile, we cannot bet on the one project, the rapid bus, to change the status quo. We must comprehensive plans for wider, more effective complementation.

Nonetheless, there is an urgent need to mitigate the effect of tax revamps on commodities and preventing exploitation, imposing hard measures to ensure it. This may also require passing a bundle of decisions to contain any such violations if need be.

The people will not change their opinion on the government so long as it does not show a fighting spirit to safeguard their interests.

The government must rise to the occasion and bring Jordanians back to the circle of hope.

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

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