Hopes pinned on public-private partnership to create jobs

MA mugshot B&W
Mahmoud Al Abed (Photo: JNews)
The challenges Jordan has seen over the past year since the pandemic hit, have been substantial at every level, and seem increasingly formidable. But regardless of the multiplicity of problems, the economic situation, particularly the alarming unemployment rates, remains the one most concerning to citizens.اضافة اعلان

 The most recent episode, entailing a plot unveiled by authorities against the security and stability of the Kingdom, is no more a threat, as it was handled wisely and calmly, and we are back to business as usual.

However, there are facts that we should bear in mind when addressing the economic situation or discussing it at any level.

The first is that nothing is more hazardous than joblessness. By the end of last year, almost one in every four economically active Jordanians was without a job, mostly among youth, and the rate is expected to have risen by the end of the first quarter this year. These young people are potential targets for plotters, terrorist recruiters, common criminals, drug traffickers and dealers and others, with all basically sharing their malicious intent to hurt our society. And this places unemployment on the top of the scale of priorities.

The second fact is that the state is no longer an employer. Whether we like it or not, the public sector will have sooner or later to be trimmed, not through drastic restructures and massive layoffs, but through tightening recruitment and encouraging early retirement for the sector employees. The stimulation plan announced recently by the government will hopefully help, but this is an emergency plan with a limited effect, while we need a long-term strategy to tackle poverty and unemployment that would involve all stakeholders in the planning, execution and assessment processes.

Third, we cannot under the circumstances rely solely on the private sector to offset the huge employment gap caused by COVID-19, simply because the majority of industries have been affected by the new reality. According to the ILO, “enterprises in the travel, tourism, hospitality, food service, retail and manufacturing sectors have been especially hard-hit, with large portions of their workforce vulnerable to layoffs.” That was a year ago, and nothing much was done to help these workers keep their jobs.

A long-term, sustainable solution lies in genuine partnership between the public and private sectors, including foreign investors. Experts believe there is no other way out of the current impasse except through public-private mega projects that take the country to a new level of development and absorb thousands of job seekers.

The good news is that we have in place the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Law, which, according to experts, “adds more scrutiny and comprehensiveness to the overall PPP framework.”

The need is there, so are the mindset and the legislative infrastructure. The ball is in the government’s court. Let’s act, and act fast, on this very end.