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Defining 'hassle-free' investment in the aftermath of King's visit to India

Mar 07,2018 - Last updated at Mar 07,2018

Let's have a look at how the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry understood His Majesty King Abdullah's remarks at February 28's Jordanian-Indian Business Forum in New Delhi. The "largest and oldest apex business organisation in India" titled the press release it published following the event: "Jordan King promises hassle-free regime for visiting Indians & business persons".

"King Abdullah II [Bin] Al Hussein of Jordan today promised a liberal regime for visiting Indians and business persons and offered to solve any challenge faced by the visitors that was brought to the notice of the Indian embassy in Amman," the business leaders said.

The easy conclusion drawn from this is that there has been hassle and it was reported to the embassy and that His Majesty was aware of it and thus he promised to "get things done", urging the representatives of the Indian industry sector not to "be bashful in talking to my ministers about the problems you face".

Such a realistic approach is coupled with a sound vision the King has for the future of Jordan as a self-reliant country that knows what it needs and how to make it happen. In India, he was in the right place to lure investments, expertise and capital, simply because the Indian partners have all this to offer, along with an extremely positive attitude.

The question is how the parties concerned can heed the vision and directives of the King, so as not to fail him and the country. Speaking to University of Jordan's students last month, ahead of the visit to India, His Majesty said he had “told officials that if I were you I would follow up closely [on deals with Asian countries] even if that means sending a delegation every week” to India, for example, to make things happen.  Days later, he told tribal leaders that any success in India's mission necessitates that “government agencies open their doors [to incoming investors]”.

There is actually no argument that we have a vision in place that is the one presented on more than one occasion by the King. It is simple, clear and feasible, and it is a fact that giants like India and China need us, because we have a good offer and because we are their gateway to promising markets. 

What we need now is to set the criteria of success, a whole package of questions that need to be answered so that in two years we can look back and say that we have nailed it and in case we fail, we need to know what has gone wrong and who is to be held accountable. 

One of the major questions that we tend to downplay is whether we have successfully reached out to investment host communities to make sure they understand what it means to have projects in their areas, and what consequences there are if we fail to make these investors and their employees feel safe and at home. 

The Cabinet has done part of the job by drafting tougher penalties for assaults of any kind on guest businesspeople and their employees, and the police department has designated a special unit concerned with the protection of investors after it has become clear that some have indeed experienced physical assaults, intimidation, blackmailing, protection money demands and others. 

At all levels and locations, officials have a holy mission to safeguard guest investors and they have no choice but to carry out their duties according to the book because so much is on the line if they fail to. 

Put simply, let's change the perception that the only safe investor is the one who has direct access to the King.


The writer is the deputy chief editor of The Jordan Times

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