Query into dam project turned into interrogation of minister

After 100 days, House stands out as more focused on oversight job

Lawmakers at a Lower House session, on March 31, 2021. (Photo: Ameer Khalifa/JNews)
AMMAN — An oversight session was held in the Lower House today, in which nine queries were discussed by members of Parliament with the members of the government. اضافة اعلان

Dissatisfied with the government’s reply to his query, MP Mejhem Al-Suqur exercised his right to turn it into an interrogation of the concerned minister. The lawmaker had asked why the cost of building the Ibn Hammad Dam project in the Karak went up from the initial estimate of JD25 million to JD60 million.  

In his reply, Minister of Water and Irrigation Mohammad Al-Najjar had said that there were errors in the design of the dam, prompting a change of location to a nearby site, only to be returned to the first site. The minister promised to hold to account those responsible for the loss of funds.

For his part, Suqur rejected that answer, describing it as “disrespectful of the House” and, accordingly, requested the interrogation.

MP Mayada Shreim followed up on a previous query regarding the overlap of those who are board members of companies and also representatives of the government or the Social Security Investment Fund. The deputy described their number as “too big” and gave the government a one-month deadline to study the issue and provide answers.

A similar issue was raised by Deputy Nassar Al-Heisa, who questioned the need to appoint 200 consultants at various public institutions and official departments, 20 of whom serve at the Social Security Corporation (SSC), while only one advisor works for the Ministry of Finance. For his part, the SSC Director General Hazem Rahahleh explained that 90 percent of the consultants at the corporation are on the official payroll as regular public servants, while only 10 percent of them are appointed on contracts.

In a related development, Rased, a parliament watchdog, issued a report evaluating the performance of the Council after the first 100 days.

According to the report, the Chamber held 32 meetings, of which 15 were allocated for oversight. In the remaining 17, the lawmakers discussed legislative issues. This figure was cited by Rased’s director, Amro Al-Nawaiseh, to emphasize that this sitting chamber has so far outperformed the 18th and 19th Parliaments on the oversight side, with sessions dedicated for this purpose constituting 47 percent of all sessions held. In the 18th Parliament, the oversight to legislative sessions ratio was 14 percent, and in the 17th it was 12 percent.

In remarks to Jordan News, Al-Nawaiseh pointed out that no session of the current Parliament had cancelled due to lack of quorum. This is reflected in the improvement in members’ performance.