The current government, which was formed almost two weeks ago, is a transitional administration whose main task is to ensure a smooth passage of the last package of political reform laws through Parliament.
Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh says the fact that his government is provisional does not mean that it should overlook the economic situation, which requires immediate remedial measures to stop it from “bleeding”.
“I did not expect the situation to be that bad,” the premier frankly told editors and columnists on Saturday, adding that he is ready to take unpopular decisions in a bid to cut the losses that are growing on daily basis due to various factors, including the rising oil, the interruptions of Egyptian gas supplies, the continued government subsidies for various commodities, including gasoline and electricity, and the effect of the regional situation on tourism.
The country needs to act now to cut the losses, which are increasing by millions every day, raising the foreign debt burden and widening the budget deficit to unprecedented levels.
This situation should not have been allowed to get out of hand by previous governments, which avoided taking the required unpopular measures due to the prevailing political situation in Jordan and the region.
If the situation is left as is without being tackled, the budget deficit is projected to exceed JD2 billion, leading to raising public debt to an unprecedented JD17 billion.
A way out has to be found to alleviate this burden if the government wishes to avoid destroying the national economy and the trust of foreign investors in its ability to recover.
These investors are badly needed to start projects that are able to address the problem of poverty and unemployment.
Citizens need to be aware that this matter cannot be left to the future generations. They have to start reducing the budget deficit and public debt as soon as possible.
Of course, Jordan has friends who are ready to help it address the situation, be they in the Arab Gulf region, in Europe or in the US, but they want to see the Kingdom ready to help itself first, to make sure that it is serious about economic reform.
Many citizens believe that the budget deficit and the rising debt are not their problem, as they were caused by the inefficiency of consecutive governments, overspending and corruption. Many say that the governments themselves should be the ones to solve the problem without resorting to people’s pockets.
Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.
Certainly, there were wrongdoings, and the people are right to demand an end to them. But people have to realise that the economy that is suffering is theirs, not the government’s. They have to understand that they are heading towards a future where parliamentary governments will also take unpopular measures that they will have to tolerate.
Before then, governments will come and go, but this country remains ours, the national economy will be ours and our children’s. Some painful solutions will have to be accepted now, because they will be much more painful later.
At the same time, the government ought to acquaint the people, the media, parliamentarians and political forces with the reality.
Certainly, there will be some forces that will exploit any government measure for political gains; they should be made to understand that this is extremely selfish.
They should help remedy the current economic situation rather than strive to gain popularity, particularly as the government promised that any measures will be minimal and will not impact the low- and middle-income brackets of society.