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Restoring trust

Mar 12,2018 - Last updated at Mar 12,2018

All signs indicate that the trust gap between the government and citizens is widening. A quick look at what has recently been writing on social media reveals a grim reality. On the whole, Jordanians do not trust their government. And it is not as if people are critical of certain measures taken by the government. In fact, they have deep-seated fear that this current government is neither responsible nor responsive to their concerns.

Is there a way to get the government out of this no-win situation? Absolutely! But restoring people’s trust would not require speeches given by senior officials of the government, nor should it focus on a PR campaign. All it takes is to act in a responsible and responsive manner.

Let us just revisit His Majesty King Abdullah's letters of designation. Over the past decades, each letter of designation underscores the need to restore Jordanian trust in the government. Evidently, King Abdullah is aware of the decline of the government standing among people. Therefore, he directed all of his governments not to hide behind the throne. Explicit in the King’s directions is the need to strike a balance between Jordan’s commitments and domestic needs.

We all know that the economy is not in a good shape. Figures demonstrate that the two pressing issues are still unemployment and poverty. Indeed, the percentage of Jordanians who are below poverty line is above 30 per cent. Over the last decades, all governments have pledged to alleviate the dire situation. And yet, the gap between expectations and actual delivery has led to frustration on the part of ordinary people. More telling is the fact that the governments have subordinated their decision to the demands put by the World Bank.

With all honesty, Jordanians suspect that their government has not even been trying to look for any solution other than imposing taxes on people. A few days ago, Prime Minister Hani Mulki asked people to reduce their consumption! It is as if he was trying to send a message to people that the new taxes are designed to push people not to consume! But if there is no local consumption, how in this case economic growth will materialise!

Another issue that only adds to the trust gap is the Parliament. Over the last two decades, the elected Parliament has failed to create the checks and balances required for a healthy democracy. A few, if any, agree that the Parliament is anything other than a rubber stamp for any decision the government wishes. Members of the Parliament have failed to put their act together and form a united front to defend peoples’ interests. The outcome is, not surprisingly, that people also do not trust the Parliament. 

I believe that Jordan does not have the luxury of time. Indeed, we cannot afford to sit idly by while more and more people are losing faith in the ability of both the government and the Parliament to take Jordan out of its current dire economic situation. Thus, regaining people’s trust is a key pillar for national security.

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