‘Jordanians can smile in 2013’ | Jordan Press | Ammon News

‘Jordanians can smile in 2013’

[1/4/2013 12:00:00 AM]

By Jawad Anani/ The Jordan Times

Nail-biting, nerve-wrecking, head-spinning and page-turning are all adjectives that aptly describe the events of 2012. However, the experience of this tumultuous year in Jordan and the region around somehow culminated in an optimistic and a cheerful outcome in the Kingdom.

“When the going gets tough, the tough gets going,” goes the saying. This is true in the case of Jordan, as is the truism: “What does not kill you makes your stronger.”

King Abdullah’s domain proved its resilience in the face of hardships and its ability to grapple with old crises.

2012 witnessed the largest number of protests, demonstrations, sit-ins, wildcat strikes, road blockades and Friday post-prayer gatherings. They almost became habitual and a part of the national pastime.

The language used in some of these displays of public dissatisfaction was sometimes unusually outlandish and strange to the mellow, soft-tongue Jordanian culture.

I had the chance to mingle once with those chanting anti-King slogans, and I asked them how they would react if a similar language were used against them. They probably would ask for a traditional tribal retribution and recompense.

Economically, the prime minister and his government had more than their fair share of cussing adjectives and became the object of harsh criticism. The tone became deafeningly loud after increasing oil derivative prices.

Commentators like myself were challenged and accused because of their stance in support of the IMF-brokered adjustment programme, including the reduction of subsidies and redistributing them in favour of impoverished and lower-middle-class sectors.

Come the yearend, what assistance had been promised by friends and brethren came true. Jordan received promised aid from the IMF, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United States, and even UK and France.

The impact of such assistance was soon mirrored in the growing foreign exchange reserves. These had dwindled to almost JD6.3 billion after the oil derivative prices hike, but stand today at the comfortably reassuring level of $7.7 billion.

Moreover, the minister of finance was able to brag about increasing capital expenditure allocations in the 2013 draft budget law approved by the Cabinet on January 2 to almost JD1.2 billion, about 160 per cent of last year allocations.

The mood has changed in Jordan. It is quite healthy, that the sceptics and the cynics among economic columnists for whom I have a great deal of respect broke with their position and expressed optimism. Yusuf Mansour, Salameh Daraawi and even Khaled Wazani managed to shed some sunshine in their columns.

Yet, the real test is to be able to hold on to these gains and walk the line of austerity. Optimism is warranted if we stay the course of wise decision making and maintain the adjustment programme alive.

The real test is also the forthcoming parliamentary elections. If we succeed to pull off a clean and transparent campaign that erases memories of the past two elections, then we can expect a reasonably acceptable outcome.

Faces may not change much, yet if elections are considered legitimate, the road to further reform is assured. The process of political reform will gain a greater deal of public faith and acceptance.

If economic and political steps maintain their bright prospects, 2013 will be the antithesis of its predecessor, and light will surely be born out of darkness.

Triskaidekaphobia will be replaced by love of the number 13, even if it comes on a Friday.

The writer, a former Royal Court chief and deputy prime minister, is president of the Economic and Social Council. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

  • 1 Corruption Baby, Corruption! 1/5/2013 6:46:49 PM

    A good and optimistic article. And yes Jordanians can smile in 2013! But that would be true provided that the major corruption cases are resolved publicly and transparently! Corruption was, and still is, a major obstacle for economic "recovery" and improvement. I'm sure that you've heard/knew/read about ONE "shark" who fled the country after looting about $500 millions from ONE company! That is the real test and not the forthcoming elections. By the way, why did you completely ignore the critical issue of corruption in your article!? Isn't corruption tied to the state of the economy anywhere???

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