Numbers that don’t appease the pessimists

Salameh daraawi
Salameh Darawi (Photo: JNews)
We have gotten used to describing each year as difficult, in terms of the national economy, saying that challenges facing the Kingdom this year are exceptional, which is the case every year.اضافة اعلان

First, we must acknowledge that the national economy is undergoing consecutive crises, as there has not been a year that the economy did not face suffocating crises or challenges that thrust it into the darkness and threatens its stability.

It is after all an economy that has adapted to crises and, at times, even lived off crises that were employed to its benefit, reflecting positively on it through the influx of more grants and aid on the one hand, and the increase in growth resulting from the influx of investments and tourism on the other.

The problems facing the national economy are known to all: They are chronic challenges that have been in headlines for long years and they cannot be denied. They are mainly rooted in the decline of trust in the government and the official narrative, due to their inability to resolve these problems, which are unemployment (24.7 percent), total budget deficit (JD2.6 billion), total debt (exceeding 107 percent of the gross domestic product) at an absolute value surpassing JD32 billion, and the decline in economic growth, entering a contraction period (-1.9 percent), as well as dozens of other challenges that have become a basic feature of the Jordanian economy.

 However, the narrative of the national economy being in a state of ruin and broad recession, and that the country is on track for a collapse, is void of truth and contradicts the facts on the ground, particularly in light of the repercussions of the pandemic.

It is true that some sectors’ operations were completely halted, and that their productivity and activities have declined, for example, the tourism sector and its various offshoots, transportation companies, wedding venues, some touristic restaurants, coffee shops, and gyms. However, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of sectors that succeeded in weathering the COVID-19 crisis, achieved growth, and sustained a stable performance.

The numbers may not appease pessimists or destructive rumor mongers, as tax revenues in the first quarter of this year increased by 25.4 percent, compared to the same period last year, which is before the coronavirus pandemic. Tax revenues are a significant positive indicator for economic activity, which witnessed growth during this period.

Hence the negative impressions being circulated among many are not based on facts.

The significance of this number lies in the growth in sales tax revenues, amounting to JD159 million, exceeding a 20-percent growth. This is directly related to an increase in consumption and economic activity.

Income tax revenues also exceeded expectations, as they were equal to those achieved during the same comparison period in previous years, and was not impacted by recessions as was expected, totaling JD283 million.

This growth in tax revenues cannot be explained in any way other than being the rational and natural result of many economic sectors successfully overcoming the consequences of the pandemic and achieving further growth in their various businesses and activities. Additionally, the government has finally started to reap the rewards of real reform at  state body that firmly went ahead with tax reforms, addressing tax evasion and expanding the taxpayer base.

The matter is not solely related to tax, as there are many positive indicators that must be revealed for the public opinion. Jordan’s foreign currency reserves reached JD15.49 billion by the end of February, which covers the Kingdom’s imports for more than seven months. Furthermore, bank deposits increased by more than 1.4 percent to reach JD37.318 billion, and banking facilitations for the various sectors rose by more than 1.8 percent to stand at JD29.158 billion by the end of February.

Despite all the challenges, national exports also increased last year by 1 percent, which is a huge positive indicator for the durability and strength of Jordanian exporters and the quality of its products, which have accessed the markets of 132 countries.

In conclusion, there are challenges posed by the pandemic, but there are also opportunities and positive activity achieved on the ground, contradicting all impressions and rumors that claim we are living through our worst economic conditions, which is not true at all. What might be new is that we now broadcast our speculation and rumors to the public space, thanks to social and virtual media.