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Wasta seen as a necessary evil by Jordanians, survey finds

Observers urge activation of laws criminalising nepotism

By Laila Azzeh - Feb 13,2017 - Last updated at Feb 13,2017

AMMAN — The vast majority of Jordanian families — 83 per cent — believe that nepotism (wasta) is a form of corruption, yet 65 per cent deem it as necessary to get a job, according to the 2014 Family Status Report.

The report also showed that those residing in rural areas acknowledged resorting more to wasta compared to citizens in urban areas, while 58 per cent voiced their confidence in official recruitment procedures.

The outcomes of the survey were discussed on Monday at a session held by the National Council for Family Affairs (NCFA), with experts stressing the need to eliminate wasta — a phenomenon they agreed is “rampant” in Jordanian society.

While more than 33 per cent of the interviewed families said they relied on wasta to get a job for one of their members, 48 per cent, mainly from rural areas, said they relied on personal connections to finish paperwork in government offices.

“Wasta has become part of Jordanian society’s culture, but it remains an encroachment on others’ right to receive the same services from the state. The sense of injustice is one of the main reasons for instability that threatens societies,” said Minister of Political and Parliamentary Affairs Musa Maaytah.

NCFA Secretary General Fadel Hmoud agreed, saying that “we cannot talk about the rule of law if we do not deem wasta and favouritism as destructive to the development and renaissance processes.”

Participants at the session noted that no public agency is free of corruption — mainly wasta — which they said is difficult to address, for it is “deeply entrenched in tribal communities”.

They also cited the socio-economic impact of wasta.

Awareness and activating laws that criminalise nepotism were the main recommendations.

 

Monday’s session is part of a series of meetings the NCFA is holding to shed light on issues outlined in its 2014 Family Status Report.

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