New report underlines COVID-19 uncertainty

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AMMAN — The annual State of the Country Report has highlighted a ‘state of uncertainty’ induced by COVID-19 and prevailing in many social and economic sectors.اضافة اعلان

The report was released Monday at a press conference held by the authors, the Economic and Social Council (ESC), a government advisory arm. It focuses on the impact of the pandemic on the country.

The report includes updates aimed at creating a framework of accountability and urging transparency in pursuing the institutional work of various sectors and areas.

ESC President Mohammad Al-Halayqa started the conference by highlighting that the report of the year 2020 had different objectives compared to the previous year, as a result of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Jordan.

He also identified the effects of the pandemic on the various sectors, defined priorities for sectors after the pandemic ends, and highlighted new ways to deal with the effects it leaves behind.

However, the pandemic was not the only factor that contributed to the country’s economic difficulties. Halayqa told Jordan News that, “There are other economic aspects which haven’t been associated with the pandemic that still need revisions and corrections. We are witnessing weak economic growth, unemployment, indebtedness, as well as a budget deficit. This created multi-faceted crises (that) deepened as the pandemic hit.”

Halayqa predicted that the rate of unemployment would increase from 25 percent to 30 percent. The report stated that unemployment has reached 25 percent.

 “I am one of the people who believe that putting health before economics may not be the best way to handle the situation. Instead, we must equally focus on both of them,” he added.

 “Although there are many signs that the pandemic will come to an end until then we cannot be certain of the economic direction,” Halayga said.

“Many sectors will be affected even more in the future if lockdowns continue to take place. All of these factors reflect on the future of the country’s economy,” Halayqa said.

The report also showed that many institutions were not well-prepared and had very few or no alternative plans to deal with these kinds of sudden emergencies. The sudden onset of COVID-19 led to the rapid development of new emergency plans, which may be helpful in the future.

Additionally, the report found that the pandemic unveiled a great weakness among middle management circles and its ability to take appropriate measures and decisions as a response to the crisis.

The report noted administrative negligence in the public sector and the absence of many governmental procedures for coordinating between different institutions. The report showed that many improvised decisions have led to citizens’ confusion.

The report flagged the “major damage” that the higher education system suffered due to the pandemic, and the sudden switch to online education.

The report also showed that during the year 2020, government institutions amended their strategies and implementation mechanisms and reprioritized according to the repercussions of the pandemic. It indicated that the government’s first response was to reduce budgets for institutions and divert resources towards the health sector. They postponed the execution of many projects included in the announced strategies.

The council did not provide a clear conclusion on the impact of the pandemic, since it has not ended. However, it did provide a general picture of both the opportunities and challenges that emerged in 2020 for various sectors and fields. The council will be providing the report to ministries, as well as to concerned authorities so that they can review it and take advantage of its recommendations.