Although Jordan is facing various security challenges, the major challenge for Jordan is the economy. It is not a new issue as the economy has always been a major concern for Jordan. The issue has evolved over time and today sees a need for a new economic model for Jordan.
World politics is changing which means it is no longer possible to rely on the same policy of aid-dependency and donations. While Jordan retains an important geopolitical position, there has been a distinct shift in attitude from historic allies including the gulf countries. We need new policies that underpin a revised economic model that accounts for these changes.
After several attempts, it is clear that Jordan is not in a position to become a business and financial hub like Dubai or Singapore. Jordanian decision-makers need to be more realistic in developing an economic model based on real development of rural zones through micro economic projects that fit into a strategy of food security. Jordan’s economic development plan in the 1950s and 1960s was based on a comprehensive plan focusing on agriculture, including crop and animal resources, with cooperatives and farmers funds.
We must go back to those plans, as our economy will continue to stagnate if we rely on donations and aid. In fact, IMF loans are becoming more difficult to administer and manage. The Ministry of Planning must be clearer in their role as not merely a seeker of donations and aid, but where real effective planning is done. It should lead real change in local development, self-sustainability and even the cultural change.
This should also extend to the de radicalization strategy, which is not just a change in the religious narrative and school curriculums, but is also based on the socioeconomic change that public policies can achieve. We must make people feel productive to appreciate their existence and this cannot be achieved if people don’t feel that they are participating in building their future
Higher taxation might be a short-term solution to budgetary woes, but it deepens the overall issues especially on a social level, with increased crime, social violence, drugs, terrorism and organized crime. In addition, higher taxation further breeds an anti-establishment sentiment, creating antagonism for the political system.
Global politics are changing dramatically, with a greater focus on internal interests. We are seeing more countries, especially in our region collapsing into chaos. It is becoming normal for many countries to coexist with chaos, therefore, we must think seriously of reforming the economic and development model, with a greater focus on our citizens and their lives and not just on the regional situation.
Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh