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King Abdullah’s directives to gradually resume operations across productive sectors praised

By Maram Kayed - Apr 06,2020 - Last updated at Apr 06,2020

AMMAN — Various stakeholders in different sectors, economists and political experts have praised His Majesty King Abdullah’s directives to the government to gradually allow operations across productive sectors to resume.

On Sunday, while chairing a National Policies Council meeting, King Abdullah urged creative solutions that strike a balance between safeguarding public health and implementing economic plans, reiterating that the priority is citizens’ health and wellbeing, according to a Royal Court statement.

“I think it is important for some sectors to resume work as they cannot possibly endure a halt to their activity any longer. As important as protecting a citizen’s health is, it is also important that they do not die out of starvation or fall below poverty lines,” said Waleed Dalbouh, political expert and professor of political science.

In a phone interview with The Jordan Times, Dalbouh stressed that governments across the world are trying to strike a balance between handling the pandemic and averting a financial crisis.

“It is certainly a very difficult and stressful situation, but hard decisions have to be made at this stage,” he added.

The representative of the food sector in the Jordan Chamber of Commerce, Raed Hamadeh, called on the government in a statement to “save restaurants from collapse in light of the continued closure.”

Hamadeh said that the restaurant and confectionery sector is “currently subjected to heavy losses resulting from not being allowed to work like other sectors which where excluded from the government’s lockdown decision.”

After the King directed the government to look into “effective ways to empower the private sector”, Hamadeh appealed to the government to allow restaurants to resume work after “a disruption that has exceeded three weeks”.

Hamadeh added: “We ask the government to give us priority regarding the King’s directives, as restaurants rely on working on a daily basis. Hence, a restaurant that does not work for a day cannot pay the salaries of its employees, who are currently classified as unemployed."

The food sector was one of many sectors to call on the government to be classified as a priority productive sector, with the Jordanian Press Association, the Commodity Traders Association and many others also asking to go back to work.

The Jordanian Press Association issued a statement calling on the government to “urgently support paper newspapers and rescue their workers,” adding that paper newspapers have not yet been able to pay the salaries of their employees because of the lack of financial capabilities.

The Commodity Traders Association, the Jordanian Construction Contractors Association, and the Jordanian Farmers Union issued similar statements.

Economist Sanad Quteishat told The Jordan Times that “at this point, day labourers and sectors that need to operate on a daily basis might choose the risk of infection over economic collapse”.

He added: “Many stakeholders and workers absolutely need to go back to work. Given that Jordan relatively has things under control, I think that the King’s suggestion of gradual economic resumption is very much needed.”

Quteishat also pointed out that Jordan’s economy also depends on the performance of its most vital sectors.

“The Kingdom was already going through much-needed economic reforms before the crisis. It was slowly starting to recover from the weight of the bad economic year of 2019. Therefore, going from one crisis into another will seriously damage its GDP for this year if serious economic reform measures are not taken,” he concluded.

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