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August 12 2022 5:18 PM ˚
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Khasawneh gov’t ‘failed to gain people’s trust’

Cabinet
Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh presides over a Cabinet session. (Photo: Petra)
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AMMAN — In May 2021, Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh presented to Parliament the executive program his government hoped to deliver separate from the planned political and economic reforms. Jordan News spoke to a number of political parties and pundits, who contend that the government’s performance fell short of its promises.اضافة اعلان

The government’s program comprised seven main axes that addressed the economy and the public sector, including the continuation of structural reforms, facilitating investment, and dealing with the country’s water and energy challenges, among others.

Citing the prime minister, Minister of State for Media Affairs Faisal Al-Shboul told Jordan News that the government hoped to be mission-oriented.

Among the goals the government achieved, Shboul, who is also the government spokesperson, highlighted Jordan’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said that public health spending reached JD3 billion by the end of last year. The government also expanded the country’s healthcare capacity by 350 percent.

Economically, the government launched a national employment program to provide 60,000 job opportunities for youth and established the Ministry of Investment. The newly founded ministry’s mandate is to promote existing and attracting more investments in Jordan.

Shboul also noted the government fixed the prices of oil derivatives for three consecutive months, which cost the Treasury JD162 million. This achievement is undercut by Minister of Interior Mazen Al-Faraya’s recent announcement that the government will hike the fuel prices to recoup those costs.
The government’s authority is weak. As a result, people suffer from high prices and high energy prices, and there is no change or improvement in salaries. There is also increased pressure on civil liberties and the political life,
Politically, the government successfully completed the implementation of the Political Modernization Vision that proposed amendments to the Constitution and the election and political parties’ laws, the spokesperson said.

However, an opinion poll conducted by the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan showed that 64 percent of Jordanians did not trust the Khasawneh government, a year and a half after its formation, local media outlets reported in April.

The behavior of the Khasawneh government has been similar to that of its predecessors, according to former minister of state for economic affairs Yusuf Mansur, who told Jordan News that he had not seen decisions taken by the government that have had a “positive impact” on the economy.

Mansur said that the country’s lack of economic growth is concerning, and that the government has “failed to grow the economy”.
To be fair, people’s ambitions are bigger than the current government’s because, as the pandemic receded, people expected that this government would rescue the economy, reintroduce social life, and the tackle unemployment
“Recent shifts in prices, for instance, in petroleum products, will negatively impact the economy. I did not see tremendous improvement in attracting foreign investment or any new projects,” Mansur contended.

Jordan News spoke to four political parties, all of whom largely agreed that the Khasawneh government had not done enough to positively impact the socioeconomic and political spheres as it promised in its program. They all said that Khasawneh and his government had isolated themselves from the people and political parties, which is why he lost their trust.

Nazir Al-Arabiyat, secretary-general of the Justice and Reform Party, told Jordan News that the consequences of regional and international developments impacted the government’s ability to achieve its goals, which was reflected in its popularity.

“To be fair, people’s ambitions are bigger than the current government’s because, as the pandemic receded, people expected that this government would rescue the economy, reintroduce social life, and the tackle unemployment.”

Others were harsher in their criticism. Secretary-general of the Islamic Action Front, Murad Al-Adaileh, told Jordan News that the government is far removed from the people. According to the party official, “this government is one of the weakest to take power,” adding that it had failed to impact public life or the political and economic spheres.

“The government’s authority is weak. As a result, people suffer from high prices and high energy prices, and there is no change or improvement in salaries. There is also increased pressure on civil liberties and the political life,” Adaileh said.

The government eroded civil liberties and failed to stand up to outside influences, including the International Monetary Fund, according to the National Movement Party.

Its secretary-general, Deyfallah Farraj, said that the amendments to the political party laws introduce unfair requirements, such as requiring 20 percent of the party to be made up of youth, when that requirement “is not applied to the government”.

The Jordanian Communist Party contended that the government had isolated itself from political parties by not involving them in the political reform processes nor hearing out their ideas to improve the economy.

Hilmi Al-Asmar, a political writer, said the government had not done enough to gain people’s trust, and that their goals were similar to previous governments.

He argued that people’s resentment stemmed primarily from the erosion of civil liberties, particularly regarding syndicates.

Not all the experts interviewed by Jordan News were equally critical, however. For his part, former minister of state for media affairs Mohammad Al-Momani told Jordan News that Khasawneh and his Cabinet have been committed to implementing public-sector reforms including the political and economic modernization visions.

“We are all now in charge of living up to challenge; the government, NGOs, civic society, political parties, and Parliament. ... We need to energize and inject superior Jordanian values and traditions to build and fly with Jordan to the horizons that we would like to see it in,” Momani added.


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