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Reason for optimism

Jun 18,2017 - Last updated at Jun 18,2017

By June 16, 2017, the government’s debt rate stood at 93.4 per cent, and was predicted to decrease to 89 per cent by 2020, a relative 1.3 percentage decrease per year.

Government spending is expected to increase from the current JD606 to JD665 million in 2020.

Is this doable? Looking at historical figures, it is.

Between 1988 and 2015, Jordan’s debt to GDP ratio fluctuated between 219.73 per cent at its highest and 60.24 per cent at its lowest, so it is quite fluid and responsive to market changes.

Jordan has a GDP growth rate of 2 per cent; its GDP in 2015 was JD37.52 billion.

The rise of the unemployment rate to 18.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2017 and the price of hosting close to 3 million refugees, make the notion of growth seem far farfetched.

However, in the face of adversity, including the regional situation and the closure of many trade routes, Jordan remained resilient.

Many of the points I believe can increase the GDP and reduce national debt are outlined in Jordan’s REACH 2025 document. I also believe that investment in the country can increase if laws that encourage investors to invest in the country are enacted.

An important point also outlined in REACH 2025 is capitalising on the ICT sector in Jordan, making it competitive globally in this digital age.

Jordan needs to register progress in digitisation and e-commerce, in local markets. It also needs to encourage entrepreneurship and small startup businesses by providing easy access to grants, loans and business development materials. Government revenues from public transport should be capitalised on.

Jordan’s Bus Rapid Transit is expected to be operational in 2019 and will be quite an income generator. People could be encouraged to use public transportation through fair prices and through cleaner public buses.

Cultural awareness and shift need to be done through media to encourage public transport rather than car ownership. The hospitality sector also has the potential to increase government revenues.

Decisions such as the one recently taken by Royal Jordanian to start a direct Aqaba-Dubai trade route is bound to increase tourism to Jordan.

The Jordan trail needs to be more heavily marketed not just as a tourist trek but also as a trek for competitive runners and nature lovers worldwide.

Aside from the cultural and religious sites promoted for tourism in the region, Jordan needs to capitalise on medical tourism.

The Kingdom offers some of the best medical care services in the region at very competitive prices.

With an overflow of qualified physicians, Jordan needs to expand medical tourism and attract more visitors from Gulf countries.

The ability of the Jordanian economy to be flexible in times of changes and its ability to remain resilient even in the midst of regional turmoil gives reason for optimism that through detailed plans such as Reach 2025 and the adoption of innovative ideas a lower national debt and higher GDP are possible.

 

 

The writer, a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, works in public service. She contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

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