Day after day, more incidents convince us, or convince me at least, that our country is heading to an unknown fate. As negative as this might sound, as pessimistic as this might sound, or as black as this might sound, I am just being honest with myself and refuse to hide behind my finger.
One and half year ago, the political system in Jordan, including His Majesty the King himself, promised Jordanians that real reforms on the economical and political level are going to be implemented in Jordan, and fighting corruption is going to be the address of the next period. If we look at the whole “Reform Package” and have a high level over view on the past 1.5 year, we’ll find that we achieved nothing, or maybe, the situation is even worse.
Let us categorize the “Reform Package” in Jordan into three categories; Political, Economical, and Fighting Corruption.
Politically, during his speech in front of the parliament, His Majesty made it clear that the main goal of the political reform process in Jordan is to get to the period where we have Parliamentary Governments; governments elected by the parliament, and a parliament which constitutes of political parties. At that point, we understood that all steps to be taken in the reform process should achieve that goal.
Early March 2011, the National Dialogue Committee was established to give its recommendations in the Constitution, Parties Law, and Elections Law. During his meeting with the committee members on 29th of March 2011, His Majesty assured to the committee that he guarantees respecting the output of the committee and its recommendations. Let us ask ourselves today, where are these recommendations? What happened to them? Let us compare between the elections law recommended by the committee, and the elections law being voted on today in the parliament!! Instead of having a new modern democratic elections law, our current parliament just voted for the one-man one-vote law again, most probably based on 2007 Constituencies. After a year and a half of discussions and discussions, proposals and proposals, we are back to one-man one-vote law, with extra useless 17 MPs in a closed list, based on 2007 Constituencies. What an achievement!!!!
What Jordan wants is a parliament that truly represents its people, parliament members elected based on real agenda, members whom contribute in developing the country and not the opposite, a parliament which can establish an accountable government with clear development agenda.
The most scary idea or scenario, is that there are certain people in the political system in Jordan doing their best, and succeeding, to destroy all reform attempts, and embarrass His Majesty the King in front of his people. If the new elections law being discussed by the parliament today, gets approved by His Majesty, then political reform is over, and we are back to square one.
As for fighting corruption, no need to discuss it in details, as it is clear to every one. Within one week, the parliament was able to close most investigations related to corruption cases. The main corruption cases are closed without results. Let us ask ourselves, yes, each one of you reading this article, ask yourself the following questions. What happened to the phosphate case? Sakan Kareem case? Privatization case? Economical transformation case? The Casino? Simply, nothing! Two or three gentlemen and a lady were taken to prison then released, and that’s all.
Economically, we are bankrupted, and without a strategy. The only strategy the government has is to raise prices. One and half year since January 2011, may I ask the government what is the economical strategy for Jordan to fix our previous mistakes on the short, mid, and long term? Nothing. What is the energy strategy for Jordan for the short, mid, and long term? Today, half of our deficit-ed budget goes to energy. What if oil barrel price reaches $150 again some time soon, what is gonna happen? How is the country going to survive? I bet everyone reading this article, again, I BET, that our government has no answer and has no strategy. We have been hearing about alternative energy projects and oil shales projects since a decade or more, with no progress on ground, and again, no strategy and no plan. Does everyone know that part of Jordan’s agreement with KAMIL; the company which owns Jordan’s phosphate, KAMIL pays Jordan $2 fees for every phosphate tonne, while phosphate price today is around $200 per tonne, and it reached $400 per tonne one year ago. By the way, who is KAMIL? Why didn’t the government increase the fees to $5 or $50 per tonne, instead of raising prices on people? What did the government(s) do to the independent commissions? The government(s) promised many times they will review its status and the salaries of these commissions. What happened? Nothing. What about income tax law? A family with 24K JD annual income pays no tax, and a family with 2400 JD annual income pays no tax as well. How fair! Most economical experts I’ve talked to, I’ve listened to, or I’ve read to, opposed raising prices the way the government did recently. Experts suggest three things, 1) Modify income taxes law on high income families, banks and companies. 2) Review phosphate and potash taxes and agreements. 3) Close unnecessary independent commissions. This will save the country around $1b a year. The government did exactly the opposite.
Linking the results or status of the three “Reform Package” categories together, we realize that we have achieved nothing, but the opposite. The situation in June 2012 is worse than January 2011. What is the political system trying to do? Why do they insist on increasing the tension in the country? What is their goal? We really don’t know. The only thing we know, or i believe in, is that we are heading to the worst scenario, and that is how i see things. I hope i will discover one day that I was wrong.
Finally, if I may send a message to one person, only to one person, it will be to His Majesty the King. “Your Majesty, out of 6 million Jordanians, only you, only you can get us out of this mess. You promised us that we will not go back to the old elections law, but we are back there now. You promised us Jordan will fight corruption, but nothing real was done. The economical situation could not be worse. Your Majesty, what is the achievement if you dissolve the parliament after couple of months, and new elections based on one-man one-vote happens using 2007 Constituencies happen? Your Majesty, get us out of this mess, they are taking our country to the unknown fate.”
June 19th, 2012