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September 28 2021 1:38 PM ˚

Economic rhetoric for media consumption

Salameh Darawi
Salameh Darawi (Photo: Jordan News)
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The most overdone media rhetoric is the claim that a national economic plan exists to set the objectives of the next stage and is currently being methodically implemented by the government to spare it from resorting to international donors and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).اضافة اعلان

In theory, all governments should have a specific economic action plan to spearhead efforts to improve economic performance along with assessment and accountability criteria for such plans. 

But in Jordan, this remains theoretical hasn’t be applied in practice. If the matter is in the government’s hands, why don’t we do it then?

The reason that a national and comprehensive economic plan has been absent among Jordanian governments can be attributed to the lack of sound institutional work among governments and Parliaments. Upon its arrival, each government proceeds to destroy what its predecessor built. Meanwhile, previous iterations of the Lower House have positioned themselves as captives to the government’s wishes, resulting in the interruption of any economic plan, approach, or policy, most of which are often tied to a single minister only.

Granted, there have been several attempts to subvert the official rhetoric through the proposal of economic plans that feature practical ideas and measures, provided that the relevant authorities had the intention to implement them. Unfortunately, however, governments tear down the progress of those that have come before them without proper justification, other than the fact that they wish to avoid using the same programs and plans as their predecessors for fear of diminishing their own capabilities and reputation. But these fears are unwarranted, especially since any government has the ability to build upon and upgrade previous plans, within its own vision and capacity.

But this evaluation-based approach and upgrade of economic plans has been missing from previous governments. They tend to rush into detailed action plans with the World Bank and IMF, even though existing programs contain the same ideas and outcomes as those carried out in cooperation with international institutions. Take into account Jordan’s 2025 vision, the national agenda before that, and dozens of other plans, which made their rounds in the media before being shelved.

Let us be honest; Jordanian governments lack a culture of institutional work, and always handle various plans and programs in a personal manner.

What is both odd and amusing is that some governments, including but not limited to former prime minister Abdullah Ensour’s, worked for four consecutive years and launched the 2025 Amman Vision, but in the same breath managed to restore Jordan’s need for the IMF, despite the Kingdom having gained its independence from the fund in 2004.

This behavior cannot be justified beyond the framework of popular media rhetoric. Governments seek out the IMF because they know that in the absence of official institutional work, there cannot be an economic program that is binding for the government and MPs at once, except for the fund’s. This is because IMF facilitations stipulate that governments follow a series of measures, which are subject to daily follow-ups and monthly reviews.

Additionally, most major lenders and donors would not offer aid to the Kingdom without preapproval from the IMF, which explains governments’ full commitment to the fund’s corrective programs, as it ultimately has no interest in hearing sensational media rhetoric made for popular consumption, but rather adherence to signed deals; something that our government is doing.

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