Jordan prosperous, but experts say room for improvement

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(Photo: Envato Elements)
AMMAN — Jordan ranked eighth out of 19 Middle Eastern countries on a prosperity index published at the end of last year.

The index uses criteria such as security and safety, personal freedoms, governance and power controls, investment environment, health and educational axes, infrastructure, and living conditions.اضافة اعلان

“In many ways, Jordan is already better than other Middle Eastern and even some global countries,” where there is armed instability, insecurity, higher unemployment rates, and more difficult living conditions, Mohammad Basheer said in response to the Legatum index findings.

This ranking, according to Basheer, does not invalidate the prevalence of poverty in Jordan, which has lately hit 25 percent, or the labor market issues that indirectly cause a major problem.

Other problems, according to Basheer, include early and mandatory retirement, which “became a burden, despite the fact that it should be the opposite, because pensions are insufficient for retirees”, forcing many to look for new job opportunities, “competing with new people in the labor market, and thus raising the rate of unemployment among young people”.

In addition, when it comes to public financial instruments that affect the overall economy, such as taxes, “all these indicators are negative, as there are large current expenditures, indirect taxes at the expense of direct taxes, and an accumulated debt that grows to cover the escalating imbalance in both expenditures and taxes”, said Basheer.

Despite this, Jordan’s level of security has helped it to rise in the Middle East rankings, “even with some corruption in some of its institutions, because countries like Iraq, Lebanon, and others are completely engulfed in corruption, and thus their indicators of economic and social well-being would be severely harmed”, he added.

According to economist Mufleh Aqel, Jordan deserves to be ranked slightly better in both regional and international indices “because it outperforms many other countries in the region in terms of stability, security, freedom of expression, and other factors”.

Although Jordan’s average per capita income remains low, he sees other factors, such as health insurance, freedoms, stability, and education, as being among the best in the world.

In terms of investment climate, Aqel says that Jordan may deserve a low ranking, due to the instability of its neighbors, but that economic freedom in Jordan is excellent, and that luring international investors is often the challenge.

Sociologist Hussein Alkhozahe told Jordan News that the index accurately reflects the reality and is consistent with the periodic studies issued by the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan, which show that the deterioration of various services in the country is one of the most pressing issues confronting citizens and negatively affecting their social well-being.

Alkhozahe also mentioned that poverty and low economic well-being cause social problems, that 80 percent of retired and working people earn less than JD500 per month, and that their social lives are impacted in a variety of ways, the most important of which through marriage. In Jordan, he said, the average age of marriage for men has recently grown to 31 for men and 27 for women.

Referring to the UN’s World Happiness Index for 2022, which was released on March 18, Alkhozahe said that Jordan was one of the least happy countries in the Arab world, second only to Lebanon.

He went on to say that 45 percent of Jordanian youths want to emigrate, an indicator that the “Jordanian society is experiencing an issue”, and that such studies throw light on the most pressing of these issues.

The government should accept the findings of these studies and try to resolve long-standing issues in order for Jordan to reclaim its social and economic health, he said.

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