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Social solidarity

Jun 04,2019 - Last updated at Jun 04,2019

The government, under the watchful eye of Prime Minister Omar Razzaz, has already launched a number of sectoral and cross-sectoral segments of the Renaissance Strategy 2019-2025. I attended the launching of the social content on Wednesday, May 29.

The prime minister kicked off the proceedings by highlighting the main components and philosophy of this Renaissance project. His three objectives were to arrive at the state of law, the state of solidarity and the state of production. The legal, social and economic triangle was well-expressed. The man demonstrated that he has a vision that rests on the better utilisation of human, natural and financial resources, more fair distribution of gains and pains, facing squarely the twin challenge of poverty and unemployment and effective implementation of the plan with a clear assessment and evaluation of results.

Minister of Planning and International Cooperation and State Minister for Economic Affairs Mohamad Al-Ississ explained the raison d'être of the whole plan by injecting some interesting numbers. Those showed that Jordan’s current limitations can be turned into expandable opportunities. We need to focus on education and training to create a better matching between supply of and demand for labour. He pointed out that 20 years ago, 90 per cent of the labour force was Jordanian, now it is 60 per cent only.

He also asserted that every Jordanian lives at an average distance of 2km from a school and 4km from a hospital or a medical clinic. We are almost 100 per cent electrified, and so on. Yet, an unemployment rate of 19.3 per cent, if not more, and a poverty rate of 15.6 per cent are worrying signs. Only 12 per cent of women work in the formal sector.

Thus, it is important that we choose pro-Jordanian employment projects, and that we plan macro but implement micro. We have to enhance both efficiency and effectiveness of the system as a whole.

Several ministers spoke about the policies and measures their respective ministries would take. Some measures would entail high costs, including increasing social security minimum wage, expanding health coverage from 66 per cent to 80 per cent of the population, increasing the number of families which receive financial assistance from the National Aid Fund by 25,000 families and increasing government jobs by 12,000.

Other measures in agriculture, Awqaf and education in particular aimed at improving services and enhancing effectiveness.

I came to the conclusion that we need such a strategy. Yet, we have many issues to reckon with. One is that all vital data do not take the existence of a big informal economy in Jordan into account. Another issue is that the last household expenditure survey shows that the Gini coefficient on its basis is 1/13, which is on the border of good and bad.

Systematic efforts need to be buttressed. Yet, people want to see things take shape in a tangible way. I am sure the government is keen to shake off any ineffective perceptions.

Happy Eid Al Fitr to all!

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