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Economic growth declined

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

After seven lean years of low economic growth, observers were hoping that growth will start to rise. Growth rate, instead, registered more decline. The latest quarter growth rate was below 2 per cent year-on-year, which is equivalent to the same rate of population growth.

Had Jordan been to Jordanians only, we could have understood the rate because it maintains the per capita income of Jordanian citizens, but at least one quarter of those living in Jordan are non-Jordanians, the majority of whom can be seen as consumers not producers.

Excluding the share of non-Jordanians of the gross domestic product, what remains to Jordanian citizens will be less than suggested by official statics.

This state of affairs will make it harder for the government to make a plan to raise the rate of economic growth. It also means failing any governmental plan to create more jobs and reduce the rate of unemployment now at 18.5 per cent, a record high.

The problem is that most possible solutions that the government may consider are not doable. It is not possible, for example, to send back Syrian refugees to their homeland overnight. Likewise, it is not practical to pull all non-Jordanians working in Jordan out of their present jobs to be replaced by Jordanian workers on the assumption that Jordanians are willing to take such jobs.

In the face of this blocked course of action, the government is trying to get around basic problems by tackling other traditional problems and challenges, which could be easier to deal with, though without results.

Under this sort of side objectives are the restructuring of the public sector to become smaller but of higher efficiency, the establishment of a centre to make leaders, insisting on empowering the middle class and pretending to be stratified if not proud of achieving, and finally say that this is the maximum that can be achieved, given the current circumstances.

As far as people are concerned, one can hear calls for supporting this or that sector, although they know that the government itself needs support. All costly demands for the government to support a certain group, sector or a social class are not realistic. They do not lend themselves to solutions because the treasury has no surplus funds, it only has a deficit. The government's main worry is to make ends meet, by looking for sources to fund its commitments and not to support other concerns.

Sectors of the economy should see part of their duties to finance the treasury; they should not exploit it by demanding unnecessary tax exemptions and other factors.

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