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The government, too, has to tighten its belt

Jun 03,2018 - Last updated at Jun 03,2018

Every evening over the past few days, more and more demonstrators have been taking to the street to protest a income draft tax law, fuel price hikes and more importantly what they view as a government indifferent to their economic hardships.  The government, meanwhile, was adamant that it would not withdraw the law under any conditions, though under the King’s directives it postponed raising fuel and electricity prices until next month.

The government, in its attempt to tackle the problem of budget deficit and check rising debts, seems to have acted in a manner that ignored the already heavy burdens that Jordanians are shouldering as a result of the economic situation. Their capital city was recently found by an Economist report as the most expensive Arab city, and the rising prices were making it more difficult for them to get along or to see the light at the end of the tunnel that consecutive prime ministers keep promising. No wonder that a vast majority of the protesters are youth who are failing to see a promise in the future with the way that things are being handled in their country. Mainly, these people are angry that they are paying the price for accumulative mistakes of the doing of others, at home and regionally, and for being ignored by the government. 

They took to the street in a civilised democratic manner to express their rejection of the government measures and to demand that their voices be heard. They have been trying to attract the government’s attention to the fact that they already have been shouldering heavy burdens, despite the government’s efforts to familiarise them with the tough economic situation that it, too, has to address. But it seems the two sides have been failing to connect, particularly that the Lower House of Parliament, which was supposed to represent people’s demands and grievances, was failing to carry out its role properly, it is being viewed by ordinary Jordanians as playing second fiddle to the government, rather than an independent estate of power. People’s perceptions of the role of the government and the Lower House have to be taken into serious consideration, and work to restore people’s confidence in their state’s authorities should be of paramount importance. That is in the long run.

In the short run, the crisis that we have at hand has to be diffused as soon as possible. And this cannot happen by disregarding people’s demands.

His Majesty King Abdullah was right when he told the National Policies Council on Saturday evening that people should not be left alone in shouldering the burden of economic reforms, and that state institutions also have to rationalise their spending. This is very true and wise, and reflects many of the demands that people are voicing.

From the view of the people taking part in the protests: government officials keep get high salaries regardless of the duration of their services, ministers get salaries for life even if they serve for one day, officials get luxury cars with drivers from taxpayers’ money, they do not pay for gasoline and thus are unaware of the burdens people are shouldering, they get to travel a lot to unneeded conferences and they get per diems for doing so, they send their children to expensive private schools, rather than poorly equipped government schools, they receive treatment at private hospitals or abroad as public hospitals are left for the needy, etc. People also complain that the government is not serious in tackling corruption, big and small, and is not doing much to improve basic services and cutting expenses and little is being done to ensure that services are being offered to citizens in a fair manner.

The King summed the situation up perfectly well when he urged state agencies to feel with the people and to carry part of the burden with them. 

A good start would be with the belt-tightening measure advised by the King. The government can use its creativity and imagination with what expenses to cut, and can really start connecting with ordinary people on how to do so.

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Comments

It is the absolute corruption in the government that is rampant throughout the country, the total lack of integrity, which is the leaders' responsibility to stop and change, teaching their people how to live righteously so they can be blessed and prosper.

Here we go again, the theory is you only allow government to operate at 90% efficiency, thereby allowing patriarchal interference to 'save the day' on behalf of the people - this politicking merry go around has to stop for the sake of all Jordanians, let the Government govern?!

THE GOVERNMENT HAS NO CHOICE THAN TO PUT THEIR BELT ON A LEASH AND SHACKLED TO THEIR BURDGET.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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