By Fares Braizat, Feb 27,2022

Despite the solid foundations, the stability and security of the country, and the rationality of the overwhelming majority of Jordanians, many indicators from public opinion polls as well as hard data from official sources suggest that we have very little time to act on turning the tide of economic downturn. This was the gist of His Majesty King Abdullah’s message on January 30, 2022. 

These are the background facts:

1. Confidence in successive governments’ ability to deliver on fundamental economic issues has been declining, and it is now at the lowest level since 1996. 

2. The outcome of consecutive public policies, exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, led to 23 percent national unemployment, with tens of thousands joining the labor market every year with little prospect to find a sustainable and productive job. It is even worse for the youth (both educated and less educated) and women, specially educated women.

3. Unemployment leads to many other social ills, such as poverty, which, in turn, leads to a series of other problems such as family disintegration, drug abuse, and crime.   

4. Confidence in parliament has also been declining. Voters’ evaluation of MPs’ ability to deliver on their constituents’ demands has been decreasing for many structural reasons that render MPs ineffective in the eyes of their people. 

5. Weak economic growth, which leads to weak economic development, more unemployment, less income, and weak investment, compounds the economic problems, and that we definitely do not need.

6. There is weak and declining social capital. Interpersonal trust has declined from a third to 15 percent in the past 15 years. This has implications for state-society relations, national pride, social cohesion, and compassionate societal relations. 

7. There is increasing perception of lack of justice and equality in society. This has implications on perceived equitable life styles, economic disparities, and the rule of law.

The list could go on. Suffice it to say, the accumulated problems, despite their severity at the levels of perception and reality, have not prevented the state from being resilient, moving on, forward and upward. 

It is in this spirit that the National Economic Workshop convenes at the Royal Court under the title “Advancing into the future: unleashing the potential to modernize the economy”. This will be the 13th initiative, since 2000, to address public interest, and it is no exception in that it was received with more skeptical than accepting views.

However, the initiative and those involved in it realize that they have to move beyond the “politics of doing business” to the “business of doing business”.

Jordanians, all Jordanians, cannot afford another disappointment. All are expected to rise up to the challenge and deliver an outcome that responds to the economic priorities of Jordanians who have been putting up with many economic failures. 

It is time to make a difference in their lives so they can regain confidence in their future and that of their children. 

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

This article was originally published in Jordan News on February 27, 2022. For the original article source, click here