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Economic independence and foreign aid

Aug 27,2018 - Last updated at Aug 27,2018

It seems that the Jordanian economic dilemma is of high interest to both Israeli and American media. Most of the articles published in some leading newspapers and periodicals, like Haaretz and Foreign Affairs, concentrate on the apparent contradiction between Jordan’s quest for “self-dependence” and its complaint of meagre foreign assistance.

Former prime minister Hani Mulki tackled both issues in one sentence when he was defending his draft income tax law. He purported that Jordan should prove its ability to achieve economic independence in order to encourage donors to extend financial assistance to Jordan. This is not a contradictory statement; this is what the International Monetary Fund and its supporters believe. Major donor countries would not be generous with us if we do not exert a credible effort to mend our financial gaps.

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz was quoted as saying that we need to seek economic independence and self-reliance. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State Rajai Muasher believes that a simpler and fairer income tax law, which has the grit to streamline tax evaders, is the better and the more rewarding alternative for the government.

Without going into details, the income tax law needs a revision and such a revision should take place. The remaining questions are how, when and for what purpose? There are varying opinions on these three questions, and this was exactly what the town hall debate, which Muasher conducted, sought to get answers for. How to resolve the differences between the various groups is the challenge, especially during the parliamentary legislation process.

Yet, economic independence is not a monetary or a fiscal policy adjustment issue. It goes beyond that. We need reform in government, Parliament and the judiciary.

We have to make our election law amenable to a more fair representation of the population. The current election law fails to address this imbalance, and most tax payers in the country are not justly represented. Can taxation be without representation? What ever happened to the social contract?

We also need to address our economic efficiency and effectiveness. The current human resources placement profile in both private and public sectors is the latent reason behind poor services, low productivity, misuse of resources, corruption and tax evasion.

Another major issue is the judicial reform and revision of our legal processing systems.

Nothing I said above has not been either written or said by His Majesty King Abdullah. Why is there lethargy in dealing with these issues? The income tax law will remain a problematic public opinion issue until true reform takes place, and so would other issues which we are expected to face in the near future. 

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