By Fares Braizat, Dec 05, 2022

The Economic Modernization Vision (EMV) 2033 came about through the wide consensus of over 500 experts, including active government ministers and public sector leaders. As such, only through the genuine cooperation of all Jordanians can it be implemented and achieve the expected outcomes.

EMV 2033 is not unique; there are similar projects around the region. It faces challenges similar to those of the Saudi 2030 and the Omani 2040 visions, and creates comparable opportunities. Yet, very few Jordanians believe that it will be implemented, according to a recent survey by NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions of a nationally representative sample of over 1,500 respondents, 150 journalists, and 151 private sector business owners.

To change, or at least improve that public perception, we, all Jordanians and institutions, have to look at the past 13 initiatives taken since 1990 and learn the lessons if the political, economic, and administrative reform plans that were produced in 2021-2022 are to succeed this time. 

Initial account points to the most important factor to achieve reform initiatives: “belief” in it. All public and private institutions, including the executive body entrusted with the implementation of the EMV, should “speak vision” and “act vision”. It is not enough to be a “lip-service” reformer; all ought to be transformative reformers, in discourse and deed. Such approach should run through the veins of bureaucracy to prevent discontinuity, strengthen institutionalization of the vision implementation, and build robust and adaptable monitoring, evaluation, and learning mechanism. 

The second most important thing is to ensure the government’s ability to secure and/or facilitate financial resources through investment and access to finance. The pathway to realize the EMV investments is through a solution-oriented mindset, with those entrusted with its implementation needing to show innovative imagination. This “process”, if and when developed consensually with competent rank and file, should produce the expected outcome because it should, not because it could come under some scrutiny.   

Lack of, or weak, belief in reform is the most important challenge, because the rest of the challenges either stem from it or will be exacerbated by it. Furthermore, a team committed to the vision should work to mitigate the challenges, rather than let unchecked and appeased bureaucracy overtake and cloud the vision.

Expectedly, some of the government representatives who participated in the 14 groups that produced the vision were rather edgy, defensive, and at times contended that they had it all figured out. For some of them, the exercise was seen as time that could have been spent more usefully elsewhere. They missed one point here. If they had it all figured out, the vision would not have been needed in the first place. They have become too comfortable, with no proper accountability when it comes to the challenges of the unemployed, and the weak economic and investment growth.

To its credit, the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation (MOPIC) has been leading the effort on behalf of the government. The government/MOPIC formed committees in the past few months for sectors, headed by secretaries general or equivalent, to draw plans for implementation. The challenge associated with these committees is mainly protracted bureaucratic inefficiency. Bureaucracy in the public sector is a heavy truck on a bad road. It is known for investing in inventing ways to come up with unnecessary delays, with the politics of doing things becoming more important than doing things.

In view of this, His Majesty King Abdullah said that the government must do what is expected, and not only what it expects will be inspected. That requires ensuring tech-enabled systematic implementation with talented, dedicated, problem-solving, exposed and solution-oriented individuals with positive attitude. We simply cannot afford to see EMV derail or fail.

The bottom line is that without government leaders who believe in and are committed to the implementation of the economic vision 2033, it can never succeed and we will be back here again in another two or three years, with even bigger economic problems to solve, and we will have a bigger problem attempting to change the disbelief in any public initiative. 

The writer is the Chairman of NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions, H.E. Dr. Fares Braizat. 

This article was originally published in Jordan News on December 05, 2022. For the original article source, click here