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Successes and shortcomings quantified

Dec 18,2017 - Last updated at Dec 18,2017

We have recently started to depend on numbers and percentages to measure success and failure in reaching the financial and economic objectives, instead of making valued judgements.

Most, if not all, basic statistics are issued by the government, which needs full trust that numbers are not manipulated to give the desired outcome that suits the authorities and show its success in achieving objectives or getting closer.

The Ministry of Finance says that public debt has slightly risen in absolute figures but it declined as a percentage by a fraction of a percentage point, from 95.1 per cent by the end of 2016 to 94.8 per cent as at October 31, 2017 an improvement not exceeding one-third of 1 per cent.

This is obviously a very small but welcome improvement, hardly enough to depend on in making some valuation. At minimum, it means that debt is no more rising as was the case before.

The ministry also says that budget deficit by the end of the third quarter of this year reached JD 727 million after grants. It is close to JD1 billion for the full year, 40 per cent above the level reached at the end of 2016.

This rising deficit is the result of a decline in foreign aid. Hopefully the budget would look better before the end of the year if foreign grants were received before the end of this month.

Some analysts expected deficit to go back to a rising mode as was the case during the past few years. Reasons being slow economic growth and lower receipt of foreign aid.

The above figures do not indicate impressive achievements, nor about success and shortcomings. It indicates a measure of stability in the new normal.

The practical objective at this time is not to improve the picture but to prevent it from setbacks.

In theory, better figures are seen as a credit for the government and vice-a-versa but an aggressive Parliament is hindering the economic and fiscal decisions, which passes part of the responsibility from the government to lawmakers who don’t see the general picture and do not appreciate the difficulties that must be dealt with.

Supposedly what the government is doing recently is reforming subsidies and supporting internal revenue to close the gap and make a step towards self-dependence. 

Here comes the IMF's economic reform programme. It looks forward to a set of objectives. 

If Parliament do not allow the Government to govern, part of the responsibility of failures and shortcomings will belong to Parliament who would like to deal with decisions, one at a time, and not as part of the general picture as seen by the Government Economic Ministerial Council.

 

Economic reform is very important. It comes with some cost and sacrifices that can not be avoided.

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