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Irbid mayor calls for cancellation of municipal debts

(File photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — On behalf of all mayors of Irbid Governorate, Mayor of Irbid Dr Nabil Al-Kofhi on Wednesday called for the cancellation of municipal debts to allow municipalities to shift towards development work. The total municipal indebtedness, he said, does not exceed JD400 million.اضافة اعلان

Kofhi was speaking during a meeting between the Senate Administrative Committee and the mayors of Irbid Governorate, which took place in the Greater Irbid Municipality on Wednesday. During the meeting, the mayors briefed the committee on key challenges in advancing municipal performance, strengthening development, and elevating services.

Several legislations related to municipal work restrict municipalities in achieving their development visions by centralizing and bureaucratizing decision-making, Kohfi said.

Irbid Municipality's development projects such as the central market, the solar cell farm, the light rail, and the business park are still facing obstacles from various central authorities, which are causing a slowdown in development and investment activity, he noted.

Senate committee field visitsThe head of the Senate committee, Dr Khaled Al-Bakkar, said that the committee is aware of the size of the obstacles that hinder the work of the Kingdom’s municipalities. It has started a series of field visits with the meeting with Irbid mayors and will continue in the rest of the governorates, to understand the reality within Jordan’s municipalities and the mechanisms and tools for addressing obstacles and problems they face, within the framework of the Royal vision to modernize and develop the public sector.
Development cannot succeed without the support of municipalities and local councils, as they are the most capable of defining development priorities and needs based on the comparative advantages of each region.
Bakkar confirmed that, following these field visits, the committee will submit recommendations to the government and various decision-making entities with the aim of deciding on approaches to overcome these challenges — especially those related to bureaucracy, delays in the bidding process, and central approvals in a way that gives municipalities enhanced powers in managing their affairs.

The municipality of Irbid and the municipalities of the north in general have borne “great burdens to their infrastructure” as a result of the Syrian refugee crisis. This fact necessitates that the government support them and identify appropriate solutions to empower them, restore their usual roles in service and development, and enhance their partnership with the private sector, he said.

Development cannot succeed without the support of municipalities and local councils, as they are the most capable of defining development priorities and needs based on the comparative advantages of each region, he said.

‘Impressive steps’ in local developmentThe governor of Irbid, Radwan Al-Atoum, said that Irbid municipality and the governorate’s other municipalities have begun to take “impressive steps towards improving their services and enhancing their developmental role”, establishing programs and plans to overcome local infrastructure problems and to create effective traffic solutions in light of population density and congestion. He also expressed appreciation for the attention given by the government to municipalities on more than one level.

Calling for more regulatory autonomyThe head of the Irbid Governorate Council, Khaldoun Bani Hani, confirmed that local councils have made achievements on the ground, but “they still require that laws and regulations related to their budgets be improved” to allow them to manage their projects.

The completion rate of Irbid Governorate Council projects last year stood at 68 percent and the expenditure rate reached 23 percent, leaving the council unable to spend on its unfinished projects, he said.

The council will distribute its budget allocations for next year among on sectors instead of regions to increase the possibility of establishing sectoral development projects, Bani Hani added.

Municipal recommendationsThe members of the Senate Administrative Committee expressed their understanding of the challenges and problems faced by the municipalities, stressing that they are working hard to find appropriate solutions, and are in the process of collecting the information to come up with practical recommendations.

The demands of the mayors who attended the meeting included the granting municipalities broader powers that enhance their financial and administrative independence, writing off their debts, giving them their full share of fuel subsidies, expanding the construction of waste dumps and conversion stations to reduce costs and burdens, supporting their transition to solar energy, and supporting them in attracting experts and specialists for development and investment.

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