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Economic reform: No option, but to succeed

Khalid Dalal
Khalid Dalal is a former advisor at the Royal Hashemite Court, a former director of media and communication at the Office of His Majesty King Abdullah, and works currently as a senior advisor for business development at Al-Ghad and Jordan News. (Photo: Jordan News)
By the end of March, or the start of the holy month of Ramadan in early April, Jordanians will have a glimpse at the economic policymaking in the country for the years to come, as a series of workshops set up by the Royal Court to sketch an economic reform blueprint will conclude their mission and submit recommendations.اضافة اعلان

His Majesty King Abdullah has recently said that the outcome of these national workshops should be a “comprehensive roadmap for the economy for the coming years”. This roadmap, he told economists at a meeting last month, “should outline the way to guarantee sustainable comprehensive development, provide economic opportunities, and improve the quality of services, in parallel with the political and administrative reform tracks”.

Many participants at the workshops have so far revealed that there was unanimous agreement among them that the timing of this endeavor is “perfect”, as it comes when COVID-19 is expected to fade away or at least when we will no longer deal with it as a pandemic that prompts closures of sectors and paralyzes public life.

For this remedial process to succeed, consensus or the nearest degree to consensus is required, so all will be on the same page: policymakers, lawmakers and pundits. Then we need to move ahead not only with a clear vision, but also with determination to reach the endgame, well-aware that failure is not an option, and that we do not have the luxury of time.

It is not an overstatement to say that economic rectification is a make or break for obvious and very serious reasons. In all honesty, food on the table is the top priority for most people, as is provision of better government services; only after these are attained do they look for a full-fledged, modern political system.

Still, a country like Jordan, with its prudent and visionary leadership and educated people, has the potential to succeed in the three tracks of reform: political, economic and administrative. This is not wishful thinking, and those who think otherwise should read the history of our country, which, at several junctions of its 100-year march, pushed its way amidst the darkest hours into light.
… food on the table is the top priority for most people, as is provision of better government services; only after these are attained do they look for a full-fledged, modern political system.

In fact, the general sentiment among the 300 experts taking part in the discussions and who represent key sectors is optimism, even though they are aware of the serious circumstances and formidable challenges to global and national economies, the latest of which the Russian-Ukrainian war that has already pushed up the prices of crude oil and foodstuff in the global markets.

The upside of the ongoing efforts is that whatever outcome participants will produce, it will be trans-governmental, i.e., binding on every government that is at the helm during the time span of this scheme, building on previous achievements that have proved sound and with desirable results.

Thanks to a Royal guarantee, this will end, once and for all, the notorious policy of new Cabinets starting from scratch and leaving on the backburner the achievements of their predecessors.

Like with political reform, all the necessary legislative changes suggested by the panel will definitely go to Parliament and will likely be enacted.

Another source of optimism for participants, as some have put it, is the possibility of a genuine partnership between the public and private sectors that is expected to pay off and bring about a vibrant national economy.

At the end of the day, economy and markets live on good news. The moment the local market, productive sectors and foreign investors smell success, the trend will start to take a positive turn and so will the lives of average citizens, the target of all types of reform.

Let us make sure that we succeed.

The writer is a former advisor at the Royal Hashemite Court, a former director of media and communication at the Office of His Majesty King Abdullah, and works currently as a senior advisor for business development at Al-Ghad and Jordan News.


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