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To regain public trust

Feb 20,2017 - Last updated at Feb 20,2017

Trust is perhaps the most crucial component of any social contract according to many research findings, and the extant literature on the importance of mutual trust between the constituents of any bigger entity of any sort (government, society, organisations, states, etc.) is rich with many examples from the ancient and modern history.

In Jordan, the hurdles to making true economic progress are many, but the profoundly damaged trust between the public and the government is a persistent problem that even worsened in recent years due to a lack of true and positive outcomes of economic policies, mostly imposed by lenders and the IMF.

Previous governments repeatedly failed to make a sound case before the public, especially regarding the increasing public debt that entered the red zone.

Successive governments also failed to change the public perceptions about corruption; people barely believe in the government’s efforts in this respect, despite perhaps the genuine intention of some senior officials to fight corruption. 

In an optimal scenario, a cooperative public and a sincere government should get along very easily and interact, productively, through available communication bodies, such as parliament and other legislative entities. 

However, again there is the issue of trust; it is obvious that only a very small percentage of the public has faith in Parliament. 

By trust I refer to “the expectation of regular, honest and cooperative behaviour based on commonly shared norms”, as per political scientist, economist and author Francis Fukuyama. 

He argued that the only way for constituents to work together productively and creatively is when trust prevails as a result of sincere prior government behaviour that supposedly led to true positive outcomes.

I would add that such outcomes must be first and foremost felt, realised and lived by the public; they must be tangible, with implications for the average citizens at all levels. 

Were our successive governments able to do so? 

The answer lies before us, and there is no reason to believe they did.

Many sociologists and multidisciplinary scholars have suggested that as long as the third world governments fail to come up with creative ideas and policies that appeal first to their peoples and also comply with the requirements of the modern world, they are highly likely to fail to gain the public trust, which is the key to a collaborative environment in which everyone is fully aware of what the situation is, the goals of both the individual and the collective body of the society, and the mechanisms that all agree upon to get mutual respect and, more importantly, mutual needs and expectations met. 

Our successive governments failed to get the public to trust any of their policies and thus, sadly, were unable to create a productive and encouraging atmosphere in which a healthy system is put in place and everyone has confidence in the system and where, consequently, the productivity increases and the economy moves forward. 

Our governments repeatedly used the same approaches that people got tired of; they have been strangely unable to listen to any suggestions from those outside the inert political establishment.

The key to regaining public trust is to make decisions that people have been waiting for for so long, such as holding all the senior officials, especially those working on the economy, accountable for the failures we have been witnessing and for which, unfortunately, the people have been paying.

The government also needs domestic strategic policies that take into account first and as a major priority the collective state of affairs of the people who are tired and have become hopeless and negative in all regards, if it wants to change. 

We truly need creativity at all levels and true actions in areas of highest priorities for the public.

 

 

The writer is a PhD scholar in strategy and international business, University of Texas at Arlington. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

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Comments

Trust can never be granted, they should work very hard to earn it. Popular government is rarely the case, especially in third world countries. Parliament is very shaky and many are opportunists for their own sake

Trust between government and the people is long gone, for the government to regain it, it must do a lot of things and I support the arguments the author brought u

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