Saturday, 27 November 2021 11:11 GMT

Jordan- The Government's Guessing Game!By Jumana Ghunaimat


(MENAFN- Alghad Newspaper)

Listening to the Minister of Finance Omar Malhas addressing Parliament, one would think it's a guessing game the government is playing with us.

He spoke specifically about allocating some JOD171 million to cash-subsidies for Jordanians, and about the criteria set for the delivery of support for household making less than JOD1000 a month, among other criteria.

He spoke elaborately about all the things the government is planning to do, in terms of new legislation, but he failed to explain why the government's doing it.

What the minister did not say is that the government has gone back on its promise to include all Jordanians in the de-subsidisation compensation and support system.

He did not say, explicitly, that the government has decided on the de-subsidisation. We do not know what commodities and services the government is going to de-subsidise, is it bread? Electricity? Water? Let alone the anticipated tax hikes on a long list of commodities and services!

For some reason, which is beyond me, Malhas left out various important parts of the big picture, leaving us guessing.

His sentences were as ambiguous and bleak as they were evasive!

A lot of effort was put to craft out a speech that does not only fail to reaffirm the government's previous promises to leave the tax exemptions intact, it also evades specificities! However, the figures under the income tax section indicate that the government may actually kept the exemptions intact, which is good!

Obviously, the Minister had intentionally left the important parts out.

It wasn't by mistake that he withheld so much information. It was a tactic to avoid agitating the MPs and their constituents.

Nonetheless, failing to mention something does not mean that it not true!

In any way, a lot can be said about the budget's details and the Minister's speech, but it all comes down to one big question: does any of it say we're on the right course, finally? Do the figures of the budget reflect an under national economic project?

If so, then we're good to go!

No effort should be spared if it leads to a nation-wide economic reformation on a comprehensive scale, regardless the costs of it.

So long as it leads us to a better future, then we will brave the odds, gladly!

I would love to say that these harsh decisions will pay off and that we will all see the light in the end of the tunnel. However, I honestly I don't see how are we supposed to get there with an estimated growth rate of 2.5 per cent, tops!

In the overall, the new budget is not much better than any of our previous budgets.

Subsequently, the economic outcomes of this budget are not going to be any better either, if not worse!

In the absence of a comprehensive approach to economic reformation, what change should we really expect?!

Nothing about the government's approach indicates a fundamental change in the outlook or perspective on economic recovery!

This doesn't mean, given the government's relationship with the MPs, that the budget will not find its way to the floor of parliament and probably even through it, not a single item changed!

Most likely, the Budget is going to be endorsed, and there ends the role of the Minister.

What remains untold is the government's intentions in regards to its supposedly comprehensive reforms plan, particularly the long promised administrative reforms.

From the looks of it, it seems the premier and his plan are on one direction and the rest of his cabinet are heading are on another.

The government has a lot of explaining to do and a long way to go to attain an acceptable level of transparency!

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.

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