Bassem Awadallah: An uncreative mess

Salameh daraawi
Salameh Darawi (Photo: JNews)
Former official Basem Awadallah has been the center of controversy among the public and the elite, both of whom have often accused him of having foreign agendas that work against public interest. اضافة اعلان

Awadallah has previously held high-ranking executive positions that have allowed him in the past two decades to impose his agenda on official economic policy during his earlier years, thereby forming a superpower capable of infiltrating the state’s body and changing its structure under the guise of “quick reform,” which he sought to achieve in accordance with his own agenda.

This so-called reform was carried out away from institutional work and the central monitoring of the Council of Ministers, and the Lower House.

Awadallah is someone who hates any form of administration that could obstruct his decisions or thwart policies that he would like to push through for implementation. Therefore, his presence at various ministries has been at the center of contention and struggle with various ministers and prime ministers alike.   

From an economic standpoint, the public and the elite view Awadallah as the figurehead behind the execution of a number of policies and economic plans that have collectively led to weakening the economy and setting off deep-rooted malfunctions, which require the Treasury to make considerable sacrifices to rectify. 

The public, spectators, elites and economists hold former minister Awadallah responsible for hatching the large number of independent institutions and bodies, which has driven the increase in spending and budget deficit; all as a result of his desire to transfer the Cabinet’s authorities into new branched-out administrative authorities held by institutions, which have become a heavy burden on the state.

There is public consensus that the economic transformation program Awadallah adopted during has time as planning minister, is one of the key factors behind weakening the general budget, having created an independent spending program that operates in parallel to the budget and relies completely on foreign grants, as well as a portion of privatization returns, which is what has weakened the budget in favor of aid to the transformation program.

But the greatest risk posed by the transformation program to the economy has been the introduction of its $1-billion worth of projects into the general budget, which no longer has the capacity to provide new financial allocations to subsidize these projects’ operating expenses. This in turn pushed the then-government to borrow to cover this urgent expense.

The most controversial point in Awadallah’s official career was the Paris Club deal, which he oversaw despite working as head of the Royal Court, not at the ministry; whereby he paid to see the deal through.

The Paris Club agreement was highly controversial at the time, due to its odd form and structure; given that the sum of privatization returns, which stood JD1.65 billion, went into purchasing part of the government’s debt at an 11 percent discount; a rate that was seen as excessive and unreasonable by all measures. Since the deal, debt has been on a dangerous rise and the economy gained nothing from it.

Awadallah has always grabbed the attention of the public and elite. His economic and political leanings cannot be separated, for the man now has hands everywhere and various groups have adopted his rhetoric and style.

I personally consider him the founder of a school of thought that has created chaos in the management of the economic state that Jordanians are still paying the price for.