Main gov’t sectors show weak performance in 2021, ESC report concludes

President of the ESC presenting the 2121 State of the Country report on Sunday, 22 May. (Photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — The Economic and Social Council of Jordan (ESC) has launched its fourth annual report since 2018 on Sunday. Titled “State of the Country for 2021”, the report reviews the performance of various government sectors by measuring the level of institutional achievement and presenting proposals aimed at improving it. اضافة اعلان

The report includes an analytical review of 21 different economic and social sectors, including the challenges they face, and recommendations that would improve their performance and enhance their interrelationships to achieve the desired economic and social progress in society.

The report also hopes to contribute to enhancing transparency regarding government work, and focuses on the strategies and plans the government implemented so far this year.

Weaknesses of some sectors were revealed in the report, which concluded with a number of recommendations related to fiscal policy, including a gradual reduction of the ratio of public budget deficit to GDP before and after external grants.

It also recommended continuing adopting stimulus policies to support economic growth and enhance financial and monetary stability, creating an environment that attracts investments through unified legislation, simplifying procedures, giving authority to government agencies representatives, and setting time limits for responding to investors’ requests.

The report concluded that the coronavirus pandemic and its economic and social effects continue to dominate government policies, legislation and resources. The government had adopted several laws, decisions and financial packages during the pandemic to help employees stay in their jobs, settle outstanding issues with taxpayers, granted exemptions from fees and fines, and subsidized loan interests.

It pointed out that the Central Bank of Jordan had implemented many flexible, rapid and proactive measures to mitigate the repercussions of the pandemic, and that an expansionary monetary policy was followed by reducing interest rates, providing the necessary liquidity for economic activity, and enhancing the ability of economic sectors to face the negative repercussions of the pandemic.
The report was prepared while the country was coping with difficult circumstances and challenges resulting from the prolonged slowdown of economic growth and the high unemployment rates,
It revealed that a number of indicators related to the industrial and commercial sectors point to a continued decline in the competitiveness of the national economy, low efficiency in the use of available economic resources, obstacles to the entry of foreign investments, limited diversification of exports ,and high energy costs.

The report indicates that the energy file still poses a major challenge to the national economy, with increased reliance on imported crude oil, oil derivatives, and natural gas to meet the needs of different sectors, and recommended, instead, increased reliance on renewable energy sources that need to be integrated in the energy strategy.

The health sector was successful in tackling the pandemic, but is still facing challenges, most notably the absence of a unified national reference for health system governance, and delay in achieving comprehensive and equitable health coverage for the population, the report shows.

President of the Economic and Social Council Musa Shteiwi said that the report was prepared while the country was coping with difficult circumstances and challenges resulting from the prolonged slowdown of economic growth and the high unemployment rates, the continued impact of the pandemic, and regional crises and conflicts in the region.

“The report included an analytical review of the reality of the economic and social sectors and its recommendations would improve the outcomes of the studied sectors and enhance interdependence among them to achieve the desired economic and social progress in the community,” he said.

In a related context, he said the Kingdom is facing major changes in the climate, represented by acute temperatures, and erratic rainfall rates, which requires integrating the environmental dimensions in various national policies.

Shteiwi added that His Majesty’s launching of an integrated political, economic and administrative renaissance project as the country enters its second centenary makes it necessary to develop a methodology compatible with major reform projects, especially after completing the political part of the reform plan by approving the outputs of the Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System, and the amendments to the Constitution, in addition to passing the parties and election laws.

All these changes, if implemented, he said, will lead to a new strategic policy reality, which necessitates a review of the nature and methodology of future reports. He added that after the internal review, it was decided to maintain the state of the country report in principle, but to develop a new methodology that focuses, in terms of content, on a specific general topic with the aim of shedding light on all its dimensions in all sectors, analyzing them in a scientific and in-depth manner, and then making recommendations about them.

Nessreen Ghassan contributed to this article.

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