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Poverty rate of 24.1% requires policy change — experts

By Maria Weldali - Jun 09,2022 - Last updated at Jun 09,2022

AMMAN — The 24.1 per cent poverty rate, announced on Thursday, necessitates a “change in the government’s approach” to achieve economic growth, according to experts.

“Poverty and unemployment have been longstanding and central concerns to Jordan,” Economist Mazen Marji told The Jordan Times. 

Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Nasser Shraideh, in a statement made available to The Jordan Times after the announcement of Jordan’s poverty rate, said that the final report on poverty rates will be issued during the first trimester of 2023.

He added that the Department of Statistics (DoS) has completed the first two rounds of data collection on household income and expenditure, equivalent to 50 per cent of the survey sample.

On measuring Jordan’s poverty rate, Marji pointed out that the government should stop renaming the same approaches and instead start understanding the structural reasons for Jordan’s persistent poverty, as well as developing “time-bound” action plans.

The DoS defines poverty as the inability to provide the minimum socially required and desired standard of living.

Ahmad Awad, founder and director of the Phenix Centre for Economic and Informatics Studies, speaking to Hayat FM on Thursday said that 24.1 per cent means that about a quarter of the population lives below the poverty threshold.

“We cannot question official figures and statistics, which are based on scientific methodologies,” Awad said, adding that “what is essential” is to review policies that are contributing to the “deteriorating” poverty rate.

He noted that the differences in the figures issued by the different entities might be due to the variations in methodologies. 

An array of polices, including fiscal policies and the social security system, need to be reviewed, he added.

The Economic Modernisation Vision carries with it “some positive means” by which people’s standard of living could be improved. 

Awad noted that the size of the middle class in Jordan has “substantially declined” due to low employment, inflation, stalled income growth and rising living costs.

Quoting official figures from the DoS, Awad said that 70 per cent of people in Jordan receive wages of JD500 or less.

During an interview with The Jordan Times, sociologist Hussein Khozahe stressed that the methodology used in measuring poverty should be “explained and clarified to the public”.

“It is important for us to know whether or not those numbers reflect the reality,” Khozahe said. 

Today, 24 per cent of the married labour force is unemployed, while 42 per cent of Jordanians have never been employed, Khozahe said, citing DoS surveys.

 

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