Where is the investment revolution?

Salameh daraawi
Salameh Darawi (Photo: Jordan News)
Three months have passed since Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh’s statement, calling for the creation of an investment revolution, and we are yet to see any push towards the investment process. In fact, the position for head of the Investment Commission has been vacant since the formation of the government. So what is stopping the premier from translating his statements on the ground?اضافة اعلان

The reform and development of the investment process does not need media statements as much as it requires clear-cut vision and strategy, endorsed by the Council of Ministers, and feasible for immediate and direct application on the ground. In other words, there must be a clear investment goal, which those concerned seek to achieve within a set timeframe. Unfortunately, this is not the case at the moment.

One even wonders why there is no roadmap for investment projects already underway to be showcased to local and foreign investors, which could act as a launch pad for comprehensive processes to attract investment to the Kingdom, based on sound economic principles.

But it seems that such an investment roadmap does not adequately exist, evident in the fact that the Saudi Investment Fund, which received eternal and unprecedented exemptions and privileges, has not made any investment moves to this day, despite being established some four years ago and despite the availability of the finances. If these were real, well-prepared projects, the fund and other investment entities would not have been so late to invest in them.

What is happening in this arena is strange; projects suddenly fall off the map, and certain projects are no longer talked about, although former governments, such as those of Rifai and Mulki, prepared project portfolios worth billions of dollars. But two years ago, conversations about these investment packages disappeared without prior warning, and without even rectification, assuming something was wrong with them. But they must be there, and the ministerial team is required to prepare them and update them, not to hide them, unless these were fake projects, used by former governments as mere media stunts.

If that is the case, then the government must explain the matter as being so, otherwise, it would be responsible for falling short of setting up a roadmap for investment projects.

What is strange about the case is that the country is in dire need of certain projects, without which there would be no economic stability, as the government is fully aware. These projects include water desalination and energy projects, like the refinery’s fourth expansion, in addition to food security projects. These are strategic projects that are vital for the development of economic activity in a large number of sectors. In fact, some of these constitute an indispensable economic pillar, such as water and related projects.

The matter is not limited to the government’s shortcomings in setting up investment projects, but it extends to the foundations of the investment process’ administrative reform, which is in dire need for a real revolution that enhances the investment climate, develops a sense of partnership with local and foreign investors, and launches an institutional administrative structure for investment. This can be achieved through strong legislation, and granting full investment powers without any interventions.

The government does not have the luxury of time for such a delay in reforming the investment ecosystem and creating a needed revolution, as everyone, especially in the region, are racing towards that goal and getting ready for the post-pandemic world; and will we have to show for when that day comes?

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