Interview: Imad Fakhoury

How can Jordan galvanise international support for managing the regional refugee crisis?

IMAD FAKHOURY: The Syrian crisis is in its fifth year and Jordan continues its role in supporting regional stability. Jordan is the second-largest host of Syrian refugees per capita among neighbours and is the third-largest refugee hosting country worldwide. The economic and social impact of this refugee influx is a fundamental source of concern in the kingdom. The influx of refugees has stretched the budget, increased pressures on services provision and government resources, and strained existing infrastructure.

While Jordan is grateful for all the support it received from donors, it is important that the international community understand the magnitude of the crisis and the risks that Jordan will continue to face if its needs are not addressed in a timely manner, particularly when Jordan also continues to face a difficult fiscal and economic situation. Since 2011, the fiscal impact of the crisis is estimated to be $7.9bn. This excludes the cost of humanitarian interventions, and accounts only for additional expenditures in education, health, subsidies and income losses incurred by the government since the beginning of the crisis.

How big is the gap between the costs of managing the refugee crisis and the support Jordan has received from the international community?

FAKHOURY: The government of Jordan is facing a critical funding issue. Today, the Jordan Response Plan 2015 is only 34% funded, which includes both actual and committed funds, leaving two-thirds of our needs unsupported. The cost of hosting the refugee community continues to vastly outpace the support provided. Unless additional financing is provided, many will be left without the necessary assistance they depend upon to survive and the government will be unable to provide the basic services needed in host communities. Given the critical importance of mobilising additional financial resources, all options to support Jordan’s hosting of refugees must be explored by the international community. These options include increasing official development assistance and humanitarian aid to Jordan; providing preferential and highly concessional terms for accessing untapped funds; providing access to trust funds that are not open for middle-income countries; and considering debt swaps and debt relief.

What are the key points for investors in the Jordan 2025 10-year development plan?

FAKHOURY: Within the new vision, Jordan 2025, our goal is to re-launch growth and investment in the country, while deepening reform and inclusion.

Our message to international investors is that despite regional conflict, Jordan has succeeded in turning challenges into opportunities and the economy has shown not only resilience, but growth. The kingdom enjoys a stable and attractive economic, political and judicial environment. Additionally, Jordan’s sound macroeconomic management and sustained structural reforms – together with its young, skilled workforce, modern infrastructure and a favourable location – have positioned the country as a gateway to regional and global trade. We have approved a new generation of modern investment and business-related laws designed to improve the investment climate. These include, among others, a new Investment Law, a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Law and a new Tax Law.

Jordan identified nearly $20bn in investment opportunities in sectors like energy, transport, water, infrastructure, urban development, tourism and ICT to be delivered through PPPs. The country has become a model for successful PPPs, and $7bn worth of projects have been implemented with this model in various sectors, including power generation, renewable energy, water and transport.