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Towards better gov’t-public engagement

Feb 11,2018 - Last updated at Feb 11,2018

Robbing banks, pharmacies, gasoline stations or even groceries has increased over the past few days generating fears that this new phenomenon, which is alien to Jordanian culture, could accelerate to becoming a major threat to the rule of law and national security.

Jordan is not used to such "organised" form of crime that has struck various public services in the search for "easy" money. The recent wave of such armed robberies could escalate to home robberies and even on streets against unsuspecting pedestrians.

There are, of course, many explanations on why the country is rather suddenly experiencing such a form of crime, but the most popular explanation attributes this new threat to the country's dire economic conditions and that many people are having real difficulty in making ends meet.

The high cost of living associated with the new wave of increased taxation is, of course, the dominant theme among, even though this rapid rise in prices of goods and services is not as dramatic and punishing as popularly viewed, especially as the government has provided the real needy people with social safety nets.

The problem could lie elsewhere and probably because the government has failed to explain to the satisfaction of the public why it had no choice but to increase its own revenues after the rapid and dramatic fall in the volume of direct financial assistance to its coffers.

The public needs simple and coherent explanations for the draconian financial changes being introduced to the public, and this much the government may have failed to do to the satisfaction of the majority of people affected by its austerity measures.

Once the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups of society comprehend the basic reasons why the country is undergoing major financial and economic adjustments, they could be expected to be more tolerant and understanding.

To simply say that our economic and financial hardships stem from the country's principled stance on Jerusalem or other regional conflicts is not enough, especially when the reasons can also be traced to earlier factors.

Meanwhile, the police and other security agencies in the country must invest more in stemming this tide of armed robberies before it gets out of hand and spread across all aspects of daily life in the country.

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