The centenary… we can be the best

Salameh daraawi
Salameh Darawi (Photo: Jordan News)
Jordan’s centenary triggers memories of the achievements made to bolster the pillars of the state and overcome the challenges facing the nation, whether internal or external.اضافة اعلان

The most common argument these days is that we have been better before, economically speaking, a statement that needs scrutinizing on scientific basis to verify.

We have been a state relying on foreign assistance since the inception of Transjordan, so much so that in the mid-1960s, grants were larger than revenues. Today, in contrast, foreign assistance constitutes no more than 15 percent of total revenues, which in many cases covers around 85 percent of public expenses. Jordan has a resilient economy that generates a sizable income from fees, taxes and other revenues that are used to finance the different needs of the country.

Some say that we are stepping into the new centenary without assets as the governments have sold these as part of the privatization process. This is false, too. The fact is that the state has influential stakes in many firms, including those privatized, such as the potash and phosphates companies, where stakes owned by the government and the Social Security Investment Fund equal almost half the total value, while the value of the share has increased remarkably, multiplying by the dozens, compared with what they were worth before the privatization.

The telecom sector, for example, was entirely state-owned, generating around JD100 million annually, while the services were almost non-existent for citizens or of low quality. Nowadays, after the privatization, the sector employs tens of thousands of Jordanians and generates for the treasury more than JD300 million in direct revenues and taxes, let alone the qualitative leap in telecom and IT services. 

Some believe that the economy performed better in the past, which is, again, completely inaccurate from a theoretical and practical points of view.

In the first centenary, Jordan has been relying on foreign assistance and the public sector was the main employer, dominating the economy. These days, the situation is completely different: The private sector contributes more than half of the GDP, employs more than a million workers, is the largest tax payer, leads a free economy and is an investor in and generator of public funds.

We should not forget that the economic challenges Jordan has seen in the first century of its history were so harsh that we were not able to pay back external loans, for example, which led to a complete economic meltdown in 1989 and a drop in the exchange rate.

This was the biggest challenge to the stability and very existence of the Kingdom. Today, on the contrary, we are undergoing the hardest times and economic challenges, like the situation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, yet the government confidently announces early enough its readiness to meet all its financial commitments, internally and externally.

It has made good on this promise and it is indeed making timely loan payments, and has actually paid all public sector salaries in full for the three months when the employees were at home during the lockdown imposed under the Defense Law.

As we enter the new centennial, concerned authorities should revisit the state of the country in terms of plans and policies in the education, health and administrative fields, with the aim of increasing their efficiency and preparing them to function better in the new century. This is not an uneasy task. This country has been built from scratch at the hands of its people to become what it is now. Thus we can be the best and with the least resources.

We need a modern legislative matrix and a package of mega projects that boost development and employment and embodies genuine public-private partnership. In this way, the economy will grow and be able to fight poverty and unemployment, which constitute a real nightmare for the country in its second centenary. The state will then be able to handle its financial liabilities, especially the debts, which have, regrettably, reached unsafe levels.

On Independence Day, we recall the integrity and value system that prevailed over the past decades.

We recall how the dignity of Jordanians was untouchable.

We need more than ever to adhere to our values, heritage, principles and dignity. We need to stand by our leadership to protect this country from conspirators and the corrupt.

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