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On corruption and the corrupt: a purge might do

Aug 08,2018 - Last updated at Aug 08,2018

"It turned out that the same official who was facilitating my investment was communicating all information about me and my [good] financial position to someone bigger than him," alleges a Lebanese investor on a darting show produced by Kingdom TV, clips from which have been circulated over WhatsApp and social media in the past two days. 

Elias Al-Hajj tells a story of organised crime involving deception, intimidation, coercion, forgery and every legal sin we can, or can't, imagine, in which inside accomplices allegedly play a key role. 

As journalists concerned with domestic affairs, we can detect the same pattern in other cases that have not been revealed transparently to the public. In fact and as shocking and disappointing as it is, some of the people implicated in these cases walk free because the prosecution failed to build a solid case against them. 

In addition to other repellent factors, the outcome is alarming: Hundreds of investors have packed and left and foreign direct investment (FDI) shrank by 60 per cent from mid 2017 to January 2018, according to one expert hosted by the said investigative TV show, while a UN report indicated that the volume of FDI declined from $3.54 billion in 2006 to $1.67 billion in 2017.

Tax and fee hikes, inconsistent investment policies, quick changes and reshuffling of governments, inefficiency of the Investment Window set up as a one-stop-shop to facilitate incoming projects are some of the reasons behind the flight of guest businesspeople and the reluctance of potential investors to come to the Kingdom. However, these factors, albeit harmful to Jordan's reputation, are not as outragious and disgraceful as assaults on investors. 

An incident in Madaba in January this year opened Pandora Box.  A disgruntled local contractor who lost a tender floated by a Sri Lankan investor in the town reportedly plotted a car accident to hurt the investor. Encouraged by the official reaction to the attack, 30 investors met with the prime minister then and told stories of what they suffered in a country whose signature feature inherent in its culture is hospitality and protection of guests. 

Two months later, His Majesty King Abdullah promised a major business syndicate in India a "hassle-free regime for visiting Indians and business persons".

Subsequently, a special taskforce was established at the police department to handle these cases and bring culprits to justice, but apparently to no avail.  Last month, anonymous assailants attacked a manager of a factory who reportedly had an argument with one of his female employees that infuriated her folks. 

What is really infuriating is when officials keep saying that these are "isolated, individual incidents".  Organised crimes against investors suspected of involving "influential people" and a culture in local communities that sees guest investors as people "who come to steal our country" are anything but isolated incidents. 

Apparently, His Majesty is well aware of such a reality and his latest remarks on the issue, as he chaired part of the Cabinet meeting this week, which are the strongest ever by far, suggest that a purge is looming. The ball is now in the court of the government to clear Jordan's name and reverse the damage the corrupt have inflicted on its reputation. 

 

The writer is the deputy chief editor of The Jordan Times

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Comments

IF THESE STORIES ARE TRUE, IT WILL BE VERY DIFFICULT FOR ME TO BE IN JORDAN NEVER MIND MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY. THIS IS SICKINING AND HARAM OF ALL HARAMS!!!!!!!!!!!!

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