By Fahed Khitan

There’s A Difference!

In the next few days, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet will have the chance to elaborate in detail on the government’s statement and agenda, presented to Parliament Monday, ahead of the MPs’ vote on confidence.

There are a number of fundamental issues that need to be addressed, once and for all.

First, the agenda presented in the statement is intended to address the requirements of the phase. It is reflective of an interim agenda not designed for the full term of government, but maybe a two-year run, at most. Assuming the House votes for confidence, that is.

That said, it is important to note that Razzaz has made public his government’s agenda for the first 100 days, in detail.

However, given Jordan’s economic and financial restrains, it may be wise to prepare next year’s plans and budget ahead of the new fiscal year.

Government achievements are always tied to allocations in the budget.

With a clear view of what’s coming, the government should put together a practical, measurable, attainable plan, within its capabilities.

Planning ahead helps.

More so, it is the only reliable, measurable performance index.

In his statement, Razzaz said he does not have a magic solution to the accumulated problems of our country, which is true.

In any way, there are no such solutions out of the blue.

Any solution to our problems must be within our capabilities, finances and administrative capacities, carefully laid out in clear plans and roadmaps.

In education, for instance, there is a 10-year programme enacted, entailing an annual action plan with clear, specific objectives and tasks.

This is the difference between a full-fledged government programme and an interim agenda.

In the transportation sector, however, the government will not be able to deliver on its promises within a year or even two.

The ideas proposed require years of hard work and careful planning to achieve.

What can be promised, in this regard for example, is perhaps the conclusion of the first phase of the rapid bus project, within a year. Phase by phase, eventually the project will come to conclusion, as it is for all other sectors.

More importantly, we must be mindful of the fact that the outcomes of reform are not immediate, they require years before people begin to feel and see the change in their lives.

Nonetheless, there is a list of pressing priorities that require immediate, bold decisions to address certain issues. But the effect of these decisions usually dissolves with the disappearance of their respective issues.

One of the main reasons why the people lost confidence in the State institution is the high ceiling of expectations.

At one point, a former official promised to construct a major residential project within months; what of it?!

There are dozens of examples on big, undelivered promises by consecutive government.

As a result, the people were disappointed, time after time, dragging the government’s credibility to the ground.

Dr Razzaz’s government has a respectable approval rate, based on the outcomes of the Strategic Studies Centre at the University of Jordan.

Still, its popularity is based on expectations and impressions of the new Prime Minister, undoubtedly.

Likewise, the premier’s statement does indeed appeal to the public’s perception and expectation of him.

However, the fear is that a misunderstanding arises, and the people get confused between the government’s agenda and its plan for the current phase. The result of this is that the government is held accountable by the people to its strategic programme instead of to its annual objectives.

Should this happen, the premier’s approval rate will collapse.

The Prime Minister needs to clarify to the people the difference between the strategic plan and the tactical goals for the phase, mostly annual, so that the people do not build great, unattainable expectations; ones that cannot be attained be it Razzaz or anyone else.

Not a single government in the world, even those elected, is able to maintain its popularity and approval rate after arriving in office. This much is none.

There is a difference, however, between losing popularity due to politics and losing it to lack of credibility, and a clarification is due, to avoid the latter.

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

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