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2016 was ‘not that bad’

Jul 02,2017 - Last updated at Jul 02,2017

There is near consensus among Jordanian observers that economic performance in 2016 was bad.

They point out that most economic and fiscal indicators of the year gave negative readings and hope that things will get better in 2017.

Actual figures do not support this pessimistic view and sweeping judgement. In fact, some tangible progress took place in 2016 in several areas. 

Following are examples:

The gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 3 per cent in current prices and 2 per cent in constant prices. Positive growth was achieved.

Inflation was suppressed. It became negative which helped consumers.

Domestic revenue part of the budget rose by 5.5 per cent, while current expenditure rose by only 4.5 per cent.

Budget deficit in absolute figures, declined by 5.1 per cent to reach 3.2 per cent of GDP.

The fiscal self-sufficiency rate gained a percentage point to reach 90.1 per cent.

The price index of the Amman Stock Exchange rose by 1.6 per cent, not bad when inflation is negative.

There are, of course, some negative indicators that should not be ignored or denied. After all, 2016 was not an excellent year.

Negative points and shortcomings existed, but it is only fair to admit that positive points existed as well, on which it can be built in 2017.

Things are relative. Even the positive points mentioned above were much lower than the objectives set in the 2025 Vision.

The ready excuse for any shortcomings are the regional troubles and the resulting unfavourable circumstances surrounding us, especially when it comes to Jordan’s main trade partners, Syria and Iraq.

These circumstances were well know when the 2025 Vision was formulated in 2015 as an economic document, and should have been taken into account, instead of projecting high objectives that under the circumstances cannot be achieved.

Observing the economic performance of governments over the last 50 years, one wishes that at least on one occasion actual results should have exceeded the objectives set in the plan; normally it is the other way around. We always have high expectations rather than try to accept reality.

This does not apply only to the 2025 Vision, but to all five-year and three-year economic development plans we went through in the last five decades or so.

There is no lack of ability to draw good plans, but there are many failures on the implementation side.

 

And, as usual, blamed are those responsible for the implementation, even though, in certain cases, the problem lies in unrealistic planning.

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