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Self-reliance as a strategic objective

Feb 03,2018 - Last updated at Feb 03,2018

I have enjoyed over this past weekend attending session after session of analysis of Jordan’s economic, political and social situation organised and hosted by the Centre for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan. The sessions allowed for a rare process of reflection and brainstorming over key takeaways, and more importantly, engaged key stakeholders and decision makers in frank discussion.

And although the weekend “retreat” was designed to develop an agenda for national action towards self-reliance in the year 2018, I believe the agenda that will grow out of these focused discussions will have an impact beyond the year ahead of us.

 

What were the main takeaways?

 

First: Transparency is key to ending the cycles of denial. Our national wounds were, therefore, laid out open on the table: The lack of equitable political representation, Jordan’s role and its over-reliance on rentierism and “donor funding” as a mechanism for survival, the “disconnect” and confidence crises between the people on the one hand and the state’s institutions, government, parliament and elected regional bodies on the other, tribalism as an archaic attitude and construct for relationships between the state and the Jordanian people, the sporadic and ill-synchronised relationship between monetary policies and an economic self-reliance action plan, the rise of consumerism, import of goods and services spurred on by a disabling and dis-incentivising business environment hindering innovation, the need to put the public sector through a well-designed fitness programme to increase its efficiency and mainstream meritocracy and flipping the “inverted human resource pyramid” of the public sector, the need for transformative learning as a package to replace instruction, rule of law remaining hostage to nepotism and a debilitating fear of deconstructing our “social fabric”, “injustice” in the distribution of the tax burden, and many other challenges that were identified, discussed and added to a quite large list of challenges-cum-opportunities for positive action.

Second: There is a serious requirement for synchronised purpose-driven solutions that engage youth (recognised by the participants), women (hardly received a mention) and civil society on equal footing and in partnership at all levels. These solutions must be articulated and implemented without state, “adult” or patriarchal guardianship. Feeling marginalised and un-consulted, the youth in particular articulated grievances over the denial of their contribution and the lack of “opportunity” to be economically active or represent themselves politically. Women’s issues were conspicuously absent from the conversations. Despite the fact that strong and articulate women speakers provided credible models for women’s leadership, the focus of the solutions — presented at all sessions — failed to address women’s role and contributions to achieving “self-reliance”. The concern is that youth, women and civil society remain boxed within conceptual outlines and hostage to spin words that describe trendy wish lists but not a real commitment to constructive engagement with these groups in order to unlock their potential and hone in their contributions.

Third: Responsibility comes with the rights and access. Understanding the package of rights and duties of citizenship. An undercurrent to the conversation was over whose responsibility it was to “pay the price” for the reform plan required for self-reliance. In all states in the world, citizens bear responsibility for paying taxes and, in fact, in advanced states citizens pay their taxes gratefully. To achieve credible political representation, citizens must hone in their citizen skills and knowledge of their duties as well as their rights.

Fourth: Reforming the public sector is a national security priority and is essential to bridging the “disconnect” between political will and government implementation to achieve the “white revolution” that King Abdullah decreed must take place within this sector to create impactful change and which will reinstate the government’s role as the executive authority ensuring the provision of tangible services to the citizen.

Fifth: Striking over the past two days, in my opinion, is the depth of knowledge, commitment and “heart” shown by the Cabinet ministers who attended and participated in the conversations. I stress this observation because common wisdom in these types of “round ups” of key informers almost always assumes that senior policy makers are engaged as a courtesy or to raise the profile of the event itself but rarely brings in honest engagement and knowledge sharing. They were all exclusively technocrats, sector experts, result-driven and politically aware. In my opinion they showcased meritocracy and were evidence of its virtues.

Finally and most importantly there was consensus that we need to move collectively and at all levels to institutionalise and safeguard the rule of law and to take steps in that direction with less regard for interim popularity and more focused on long-term results. To that end, the action plan to move towards self-reliance in 2018 would see incremental steps annually towards a defined strategic objective so that the citizen may begin to feel the results of reform.

 

 

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Comments

MY DEAR PROFESSOR DONT YOU THINK THAT PEOPLE ARE MOSTLY UNEMPLOYED, POOR AND SICK BECAUSE THE SYSTEM HAS FAILLED THEM BECAUSE OF LACK OF TRANSPARENCY, POLICY PARTICIPATION AND ESCLUSSION BY DEFAULT SECONDARY TO WASTA, TRIBALISM AND OLD FASHION INJUSTICE.

AS NERMEEN MURAD HAS STATED, CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME AND HOME IN THIS CASE IS A FUNCTION OF TRANPARENCY AS TRANPARENCY IMPROVES THE LEVEL OF CITIZEN PARTICIPATION AND INCLUSION IN ANY NATION BUILDING. MEANWHILE ANY NATION BUILDING THAT LEAVES BEHIND THE VOICES OF THE PEOPLE MOST IMPOTRANTLY THOSE OF THE YOUTHS THAT ARE THE FUTURE HOPES OF THE KINGDOM. UNFORTUNATELY, NEPOTISM, CANCEROUS WASTA, AND TRIBALISM ALL HAVE CREATED A LOOP OF RECYCLING THE POWER BROOKERS LEAVING THE USUAL SUSPECTS HANGING AROUND WITH NO SAY, NO RIGHTS AND ZERO PARTICIPATION SO NO AMOUNT OF WEEKEND MEETINGS IRRESPECTIVE OF THE DEMOGRAPHY OF THE ATTENDIES CAN TURN THE TIDE WITHOUT FIRST DEPROGRAMMING THE PRESENT. IT WILL REQUIRES SO MANY NERMEEN'S TO DIVEST FROM THE PAST AND PRESENT INTO A NEW DREAMS OF SUCCESS. ON THE WOMEN'S ISSUE FRONT, IT IS ALMOST AN UNWINABLE BATTLE WHEN IN FACT ANY COUNTRY THAT LOOSES THE PARTICIPATIONS AND CONTRIBUTIONS OF WOMEN CAN NOT SURVIVE. LOOK AT WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN SAYING, CONTRIBUTING AND BEATING ALL SORTS OF DRUMS FOR CHANGES AND COMPARE IT TO WHAT YOUR LEADERS AND MASTERS SAYING AND DOING, THEN YOU WILL COME TO THE SAME CONCLUSIONS THAT I HAVE ARRIVED AT LONG TIME A GO. THE MARGINALIZATION OF THE WOMEN CONTRIBUTIONS IS SIMPLY WRITING OFF THE BRAINS OF THE OVER 50% OF THE POPULATION OF THE COUNTRY SO HOW CAN YOU SURVIVE. IRRONICALLY, YOU CAN NOT REFORM THE PUBLIC SECTOR WHEN IT IS BUILT ON THE WASTA PHENOMINA AND TRIBALISM. THAT WILL BE LIKE TRYING TO COLLECT WATER FROM A LEAKING TANK WITH A SEIVE WHICH TAKES US BACK ON THE LOOP THAT THERE ARE NO FOUNDATIONS TO BUILD ON AND YET JORDAN IS ONE OF THE BEST COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD WITH FIRST CLASS BRAINS THAT ENDS UP UNTAPPED. DESPITE HIS MAJESTY'S LOUD AND CLEAR DIRECTIVES FOR CHANGES, WE HAVE GOTTON NO WHERE BECAUSE IF YOU ADD EQUAL TO EQUAL, THE RESULT IS EQUAL. WHAT MORE, IF YOU ADD AND SUBTRACT, YOU HAVE DONE NOTHING AS YOU ARE STILL ON THE GROUND ZERO. LET US TRACE OUR LOCUS BACK AND COUNT HOW MANY ARTICLES THAT JORDAN TIMES HAS PRINTED OVER THESE YEARS AND THE VISION AND CHANGES THAT HIS MAJESTY HAS ASKED FOR AND TELL WHICH ONES HAS BEEN STARTED NEVER MIND COMPLETION. IS IT NOT SAD THAT JORDAN HAS ONE OF THE LARGEST POPULATION DENSITY OF ENGINEERS EDUCATED ALL OVER THE WORLD WITH REMARKABLE SUCESS AND YET ARE EXCLUDED FROM THE POLICY MAKING APPARATUS OF THE SAI LOOP. JORDAN TODAY CAN BE VERY PROUD THAT THEY ARE PRODUCING ONE OF THE MOST EFFICIENT, SMART AND HIGHLY TRAINED NURSES TODAY BECAUSE HER ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCESS MUNA TOOK CHARGE OF IT. IN FACT I KNOW OF MANY HIGH QUALITY STUDENTS EDUCATED AT AMMAN NATIONAL SCHOOL THAT EITHER RAN AWAY FROM JORDAN OR SIDELINED THEIR EXPERTISE AND JOINED THE BUKRA CLUB OF THE LOST HOPES. WHY?. WELL THE ANSWER IS CLEAR BECAUSE THERE IS NO FUTURE IN HOME LAND SO THEY GAVE UP. IN SUMMARY, AS LONG AS THE PEOPLE EITHER REFUSES TO PARTICIPATE OR SHOVED ASIDE AND BLOCKED FROM PARTICIPATION, THERE WILL BE NO NEW IDEAS BUT A LOOP OF RECYCLED BEAN IN A DEPO OF HIGHLY EDUCATED BRAINS. TIME IS EVERY THING AND ITS ABOUT TO RUN OUT AND SO JORDAN NEEDS MORE OF NERMEEN MURAD AND THE JORDAN TIMES SHE WORKS FOR. IF IT WILL HELP, I CAN STATE THAT THIS WOMAN SHOULD BE ASSIGNED TO A MAJOR PUBLIC POLICY POSITION WITHIN THE GOVERNMENT AGENCY.

How could Jordanians have self-reliance when they are mostly unemployed, poor and sick, is it a realistic aim ?

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