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July 2 2022 2:02 AM ˚
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Why Defense Order No. 5 is just routine

Salameh Darawi (Photo: Jordan News)
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Media platforms and social media networks have been preoccupied with Defense Order No. 5, which was issued by the prime minister two days ago, deeming it a new decision, carrying various meanings.اضافة اعلان

Some deemed it a ministerial decision to reduce the purchases of new cars for officials, and others interpreted it as measure to control increasing spending by the various ministries and independent bodies, while another interpretation saw the decision as a clear cap on appointments, constituting a roadblock for all entities, particularly Lower House members.

But the truth is that Defense Order No. 5 is no more than a routine procedure, carrying none of the aforementioned interpretations. By law, the budget law goes through three stages.

The first is related to the prime minister’s budget announcement, which is usually issued in July, requesting ministries and other bodies to prepare preliminary drafts for the draft law. The second revolves around the endorsement of the budget by Parliament, as per the Constitution, and the third is the one relating to the prime minister’s executive announcement on the budget law and the budgets of independent bodies, which is exactly what has been issued under Defense Order No. 5.

The media’s unusual preoccupation with Defense Order No. 5 is due to the belief that it prevents officials from exploiting public money by mandating them to abide by spending caps set for their ministries or bodies, and that the defense order would hold them legally responsible should they overstep these caps.

However, this is not the case, as the defense order is a routine announcement, reaffirming that officials, on all levels, shall not exceed spending caps set for them in the budget law. In essence, this defense order is redundant, because the standard is full compliance by the government with spending appropriations provided for in the budget, as the latter is a law just like any other, which must not be breached in any way. However, unfortunately, as we have said before, the largest challenge facing the state’s General Budget Law, despite all its deformities and downsides, is compliance with its appropriations and respect for its inviolability legality.

Non-compliance with the budget’s provisions means deviating from its overall objectives and failing to achieve its projections, which would certainly lead to a rise in the budget deficit, and in turn, public debt, which is the case almost every year.

The responsibility of implementing the budget law falls on the government, but the responsibility of monitoring it and ensuring sound implementation belongs to the Lower House, particularly its finance committee. The committee is supposed to meet periodically to evaluate the executive branch’s fiscal performance, rather than leave the task till the end of the year, when it is too late for discussions or shouting matches, as at that time, everyone would be demanding additional funds to bridge the new additional deficit, which is usually covered through borrowing or by imposing new fees and taxes.

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