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A future lesson, hopefully

Apr 02,2020 - Last updated at Apr 02,2020

Up to this very point in our fight against the coronavirus, most Jordanians feel confident that the country will eventually win the war against this pandemic, and win it well. The main reason behind this confidence is their trust and respect of the government’s handling of the matter so far.

While the measures taken by the government in dealing with the pandemic are far from perfect, people nonetheless believe that the government has lived up to the challenge in its prompt anticipation of the gravity of the situation, in the specific steps it took afterwards to contain the virus, and in the love and care it showed the people.

Not only this, but many believe that the conduct of the government throughout the crisis reflects the quality of performance that they have never experienced from it, or indeed from many previous governments before it.

Away from the COVID-19 issue, however, the point I wish to highlight here pertains to the implications of people’s satisfaction with governmental performance and the government’s demonstrated ability to handle matters professionally and successfully.

The prevalent opinion, even conviction, by a majority of people prior to the current crisis is that the Jordanian government, not just this government but any government in recent history, is incapable of addressing the outstanding challenges efficiently, and bringing about the desired change.

For more than two decades, Jordanians have been expecting the government to zero in on pressing matters ably and come up with solutions that either alleviate or eliminate what have become chronic problems.

These include poverty, unemployment, foreign debt, shortage of funds, obsolete means of transportation, traffic jams, traditional teaching and learning, etc.

For some time now, however, governments have been coming and going, and these problems not only remain with us, but in many ways worsen and escalate.

And what is perceived by a lot of people as governmental incompetence vis-à-vis such problems has led people not only to question government’s ability to tackle issues efficiently, but to almost lose faith in governments themselves.

The current governmental success in handling the spread of COVID-19 is an opportunity for the government, in the post-COVID 19 era, to transfer the skills it has developed in dealing with the corona pandemic to handling the outstanding issues spoken of above.

So many of us have been emphasising the importance of learning lessons, at so many fronts, from the current corona crisis, in order to implement them in the post-corona-virus era.

One of the most important lessons would be how the government can capitalise on the strengths it showed throughout the crisis in tackling the chronic societal problems of poverty, unemployment, foreign debt, etc.

The government’s positive handling of the crisis gave the government the confidence and professionalism it did not have before the crisis, but it also gave it skills that it could employ.

Such skills include quick thinking, adequate planning, precise measures, meticulous follow-up, close coordination among the various stakeholders, effective communication with the people, and many other skills.

There is a big opportunity for the government to better its performance in tackling not just emergent problems, such as COVID 19, but in addressing head on what have come to be perceived as “permanent” problems, and to restore people’s faith in government.

Hopefully, the government will seize this unexpected opportunity to learn to do well what is expected of it under ordinary circumstances.

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