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The National Agenda’s 10 promises

May 14,2017 - Last updated at May 14,2017

Even though the National Agenda was shelved immediately upon its completion, we can go back to the agenda in 2017, the year that was set in the agenda as a target date for the fulfilment of its major objectives.

Now that 2017 is upon us, it may be appropriate to compare the planned objectives with the actual state of affairs.

The easiest part of economic and social planning is to set desirable objectives that are acceptable to all.

The hardest part of such planning is to formulate a workable programme to fulfil these objectives.

The easy part is not controversial. Coordinator of the agenda, Marwan Muasher, announced it at the time at a press conference. He did not deal with the ways and means to make the desired objectives come about because they would have raised objectives and reservations.

The agenda was documented in several large volumes and an executive summary. It included at least 10 economic, social and fiscal promises which, if achieved, would have made Jordan an ideal country, envied by other developing countries which failed to formulate their own long-term national agendas.

These promises were: a comprehensive medical insurance to be in place as of 2012; the creation of 600,000 new jobs in the course of 10 years; reducing the unemployment rate from 14 per cent to 6.8 per cent; reducing the poverty rate from 14 per cent to 10 per cent; raising the average per capita income from JD1,500 to JD2,400 annually; empowering women and full equality between men and women by 2015; shifting the budget deficit from 11.5 per cent of the GDP after foreign grants to a surplus of 1.8 per cent before grants in 2017; raising the economic growth to an annual rate of 7.2 per cent in real terms; reducing the public debt ratio to GDP from 91 per cent to 36 per cent in 10 years; raising funds devoted to finance scientific research from 0.4 per cent to 1.5 per cent of GDP by 2017.

It was not clear at the time whether these objectives were binding on the government or only wishful thinking.

The agenda did not specify the assumptions upon which its objectives were determined. This is very important in the case of Jordan, in view of the fact that the basic factors that influence economic development are external and not controllable by our planners such as: developments regarding the Palestinian case, the future of Iraq and Syria, regional stability, the world prices of petroleum, the volume of foreign grants, the situation in the Gulf states labour market, etc.

 

Each of the above-mentioned 10 promises is worth an objective discussion, but one may dwell a little bit on the objectives that were supposed to be achieved in 2017 and compare the promises with the actual situation, and point out the shortcomings.

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