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Hundreds of MPs’ relatives appointed as administrators at Chamber

By Omar Obeidat , Raed Omari - Apr 11,2016 - Last updated at Apr 11,2016

AMMAN – A document listing 109 people appointed recently at the Lower House showed that 15 of them are sons of MPs while the majority of others are relatives of lawmakers, which adds to the already "bloated" administrative staff at the Chamber. 

The list, made available to The Jordan Times, was approved "reluctantly" by the Cabinet early this month, as pointed out by Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, and was the substance of bickering between the premier and Lower House Speaker Atef Tarawneh.

According to an MP and a parliamentary expert, the large number of administrators at the Lower House has been growing over the past six years due to a series of appointment cycles endorsed by speakers in order to "appease" fellow lawmakers, especially at time of imminent speakership elections. 

Nearly 800 persons have been hired by the House over the past years, according to the sources. 

MP Tareq Khouri, who in 2013 headed a committee that oversaw the transfer of 500 excess workers at the House to other public departments, told The Jordan Times on Monday that there are extra employees currently at the House. He accused MPs of pressuring the speaker to request more appointments from the government. 

"MPs cannot risk rejecting “wasta” [obtaining privileges through connections] requests from people in their constituencies, because they fear losing them as voters. This is a big problem for the House and this has to change," he said. 

Khouri said that moving 500 employees from the House to other public departments saved its budget around JD170,000 a month or around JD2 million annually in salaries. 

Al Rai journalist Majed Al Ameer, who has been covering parliamentary affairs for years, said appointments over the past five years were not based on actual needs or merit. 

“Appointments in the House should be through the Civil Service Bureau like any other government agency and should be based on meritocracy because MPs do need consultants and researchers in legislative issues,” Al Ameer said, noting that such qualifications do not apply generally to the recent list, which mainly includes relatives of lawmakers. 

An informed source said another list of appointments for the Senate has also been referred to the Cabinet for approval. 

The other list is, however, smaller than that of the Lower House’ as it includes between 15 to 20 names, said the source.   


Ensour-Tarawneh correspondence 


Leaked letters between Ensour and Tarawneh have shown that both men are at odds as leaked written letters exchanged by the two have shown. 

Ensour began one letter to Tarawneh by saying: “For your information, the Cabinet, in a session on March 23, decided, reluctantly, to create jobs for the 109 persons [picked by the speaker]”, who in a reply objected to the premier’s use of the word “reluctantly”.

In the letter, sent on April 3, Ensour added: “The Cabinet also decided to disregard all similar requests in the future because they deprive job seekers who have applied to the Civil Service Bureau from their rights.” 

In his reply letter to Ensour, sent on April 6, Tarawneh objected to the former’s “arrogant” style in addressing another constitutional authority, saying: “I do not think that this attitude is appropriate from a constitutional authority addressing another.”

“I really wished that this ‘reluctance’ was there when you selected nominees of top public offices [disregarding due procedure],” Tarawneh wrote in his reply, also seen by The Jordan Times.

“For your information,” the lawmaker continued, appointment in the Lower House has always been coordinated with the Civil Service Bureau and you know this and you [Ensour] can check that,” Tarawneh wrote.

Tarawneh concluded his letter with accusing Ensour’s government of always attempting to “tarnish the image of the 17th Lower House” and “weaken” its legislative role.

On his Facebook account, MP Khamis Atiyyeh said that the disagreement between the premier and the House speaker is not the problem “inasmuch as it is the language used in addressing the legislative authority”.

“The premier has chosen the wrong words in his letter to the speaker.’This is the last time’ and ‘reluctance’ should have never been used when addressing the House and its speaker,” Atiyyeh said.


Calling on the government to show respect for the House, the MP also urged the Chamber to perform its constitutional duties “in isolation from personal considerations”.

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