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Doing away with obstacles

May 14,2015 - Last updated at May 14,2015

For how long are we to talk about “obstacles” to investment?

Since the late 1970s, i.e., for about four decades now, we have been citing obstacles to investment as a major problem.

Many meetings, conferences, TV programmes, articles tackled this matter, all stressing the importance of “removing” these obstacles. And many investors and officials complained — to no avail, it seems.

And still, we are talking about the “necessity” of removing these obstacles.

A few days ago, His Majesty King Abdullah met with several leading investors to encourage them to make full use of the opportunities available in the county, also calling on those concerned to remove the obstacles standing in the way of investment.

Indeed, Jordan has great potential, and many elements that could attract substantial investments from the region and beyond: geographical location, society’s openness, skilled labour, smart young people, stability, proximity to wealthy countries, etc. It does have a plethora of investment opportunities across the board. So many resources are yet to be tapped.

One understands that removing obstacles is an ongoing process. Old ones disappear, and new ones emerge. Some take a long time to overcome.

Nevertheless, this does not seem to be the case.

Based on the opinions of investors and experts, we seem to be talking about the same obstacles that have existed for a long time: crude legislation, obsolete procedures, unnecessary bureaucracy, bad attitude and practices, etc., which is particularly worrisome here.

Some good investments have been realised, of course, and have benefitted the country as well as many individuals. At the same time, we have lost many mega-projects to neighbouring countries, and have aborted many ideas because of inaction vis-à-vis obstacles.

This is no light matter. Under the circumstances, taking into account that what is happening in the region substantially reduces Jordan’s ability to attract as much aid as before, we should be aware that investment ties in closely with our very survival and existence.

Economic recovery is a life saver for our society and our people. The opposite is disastrous.

Investment, therefore, should be treated as a security matter for the country. As such, there should be no tolerance for both obstacles themselves and for those who create or contribute to them.

A tough approach is needed in order to end the discourse and approach that over the past four decades was used with few results.

Obstacles exist in any realm. But through careful planning and rigorous, robust action, they can be removed.

We need such robust action now.

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