Things as they are | Jordan Press | Ammon News

Things as they are

[12/31/2012 12:00:00 AM]

by Fahed Fanek

Looking at the bright side, one finds that Jordanian expatriates’ remittances rose this year by 6 per cent, tourist receipts increased by 15.3 per cent, foreign grants may exceed the level predicted by the budget by the end of this year because the bulk of Gulf funds was received during December, the foreign exchange reserve at the Central Bank resumed growth, reaching $7 billion, the Jordanian economy is growing at an 8 per cent rate in current prices and 3 per cent in real terms, the IMF mission is satisfied with the results of its review, facts on the ground being positive, so one wonders what are the reasons behind the pessimistic mood expressed by many economic commentators, and the negative outlook of the economy as seen by analysts.

If this negative attitude is due to the current social unrest and the peaceful demonstrations conducted every Friday noon, activities incompatible with investment and economic growth, then such pessimists should take into account the fact that the social and political activism was weaker in 2012 than it was in 2011 when it started, and can be expected to be even weaker in 2013.

These demonstrations became a weekly routine with no real impact on the people or the government. The only result is a small news item in the Saturday newspapers about demonstrations here and there calling for reform and fighting corruption.

It is true that Jordan’s economic and fiscal situation is far from ideal, but this is the case with most, if not all, countries in the world. They all complain of economic recession, low growth rates, high budget deficit and rising public debt.

These problems are found in Jordan but on a smaller scale and within limits that can be dealt with and overcome.

Speculations of huge unrest in Jordan, coming from abroad, have two sources. One is Israel. What is presented by this source is wishful thinking, it is not based on solid facts. The other is observers who relate what is happening in the Arab Spring countries, especially Syria to Jordan. They assume that Jordan will follow suit, a line of reasoning that is not realistic.

In Jordan’s case, there is no conflict between the people and the regime. The King is ahead of the protesters when it comes to political reform. He is for a freely elected parliament, and a parliamentary government.

Jordanians see the destruction that is taking place in Syria and Libya, and the chaos in Egypt and Yemen, and do not want such a fate for their country, especially when the road to political reform is open.

Corruption in Jordan is being fought through specialised institutions. The grading scale produced by the Transparency International on anticorruption measures put Jordan in the fourth position among 22 Arab countries. Only Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait were in better position. Jordan was cleaner and less corrupt than the remaining 18 Arab countries.

To be pessimistic is bad; it could be self-fulfilling prophecy. Exaggerating optimism is also bad; it leads to frustration. We should see things as they are, not more, not less.

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