47% of 2021 aid to Jordan went to essential sectors — Shraideh

The health, justice, governance, social protection, transportation, energy, vocational training, environment, and agriculture sectors accounted for 6 percent of the total aid, according to the Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Nasser Shraideh. (File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Nasser Shraideh said on Tuesday that 47 percent of the aid contracted to Jordan last year was directed to support priority programs and projects in several essential sectors. He told a local media that the areas and sectors covered by the aid, which amounted to $2.17 billion, involved sectors that provide social protection, and encompass key sectors that drive employment and growth under the “government’s ‘economic priorities program’ for the years 2021-2023.”اضافة اعلان

Aid came from a wide range of sources, like the US, the EU, and Saudi Arabia, according to Shraideh, stressing that the funds came as a result of His Majesty King Abdullah’s efforts and cooperation with Jordan’s allies, recognition of the Kingdom’s reform program, in addition to an understanding by the international community and donors of Jordan’s urgent development needs and economic challenges in light of limited resources and a refugee influx.

On the distribution of aid among sectors, Shraideh said that the water and sanitation sector accounted for $807 million, or 18 percent of the total aid received in 2021. The education sector received a total of $266 million, making up 6 percent of 2021’s aid to Jordan. Additionally, the economic and development sector raked in a total of $128 million, amounting to 2.8 percent of the total aid.

Much of the aid directed towards the economic sector went to support some small and medium-sized businesses, which were particularly in need.

Shraideh also indicated that the health, justice, governance, social protection, transportation, energy, vocational training, environment and agriculture sectors accounted for 6 percent of the total aid, with a value of $269.4 million. Investments were channeled to the refugee support sector, which included the provision of direct, food, and medical aid, as well as shelter, among other means of support at a value of $517.6 million, or 11 percent of the aggregate aid expenditure.

Shraideh explained that the treasury received grants to support the general budget until the end of 2021, with a total of JD803 million, in addition to some soft loans directed to support the Kingdom’s budget, which amounted to JD870.7 million.

According to the planning ministry, among the projects included in this assistance is the water sector; which targeted the rehabilitation and upgrading of water networks and pipes in Ajloun, Balqa, Amman, Jerash, Mafraq, and Irbid governorates; the rehabilitation of the Zay station water system (the largest source of potable water in the Kingdom) and investing in the National Water Carrier project.

The minister also pointed out that "part of this aid was directed to the infrastructure and transport sector to finance a number of projects like developing public transport infrastructure, implementing and rehabilitating a number of main roads.”

Economist Mufleh Aqel told Jordan News that it is quite likely that a good portion of this aid was received from foreign actors under certain conditions, like stipulating the sector in which the funds will be spent. “For example, if Germany gives Jordan a loan to build schools, Jordan must comply with these conditions and build schools.”

Beyond the 47 percent of aid mentioned by the planning ministry, Aqel pointed out that those remaining amounts were most likely directed towards the other portions of the Kingdom’s budget. He also explained that Jordan usually receives soft loans through cooperation with international organizations like the European Investment Bank.  “Soft loans often involve long-term low interest rates. If invested properly, these soft loans can create revenue-generating assets for Jordan,” he said.

Economic expert Wajdi Makhamreh recommended that the remaining amounts of the 2021 aid be possibly utilized to support numerous sectors in Jordan like the tourism, agriculture, and energy sectors, “which could provide promising sources of revenue for the Kingdom.” Additionally, it is advisable, he said, to utilize some of Jordan’s aid to extract some raw materials like minerals to boost its exports and to mobilize the economy.

Makhamreh believes that it is more beneficial for Jordan to invest more in the private sector and less in the public sector. “At the moment, the public sector is quite saturated with over employment. There should be a special focus on investing in the private sector moving forward, in order to make Jordan’s economy more self-sufficient, and less reliant on monetary foreign aid.”

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