Interview: Abdullah Ensour
What are the objectives of the Jordan 2025 development blueprint, and how will they ensure longer-term economic sustainability?
ABDULLAH ENSOUR: Jordan 2025 charts a path for the future of the kingdom and determines the framework that will govern the economic and social policies. Its basic principles include promoting the rule of law and equal opportunities, increasing participatory policymaking, achieving fiscal sustainability and strengthening institutions. The vision offers a baseline scenario, which assumes that some, but not all, of the reform measures contained in the vision will be adopted. There is also the ideal scenario, which assumes further measures to achieve high growth rates will be taken, above and beyond the baseline case. The baseline scenario projects real economic growth of 4.8% by 2025, seeks to reduce the unemployment rate to 10-11.7% and lowers the public debt-to-GDP ratio to 60%. The ideal scenario, meanwhile, aims for 7.5% growth in real GDP, along with an unemployment rate of 8-9.7% and a public debt-to-GDP ratio of 47%.
Jordan 2025 puts citizens at the heart of the development process – success and failure are measured by individuals’ satisfaction and the welfare of their communities. The plan is a long-term national strategy, rather than a detailed government action plan. It incorporates over 400 policies or procedures to be implemented via a participatory approach involving the government, businesses and civil society. The prime minister’s Delivery Unit was re-established to oversee the most important proposals and overcome obstacles facing their implementation, in order to assure commitment and effective implementation.
How concerned are you that regional instability will negatively affect foreign investor sentiment?
ENSOUR: The region’s political instability is expected to persist through 2015 and possibly escalate in coming years. Unsurprisingly, Jordan has been affected by the crisis and it remains a major challenge facing the economy. Since the conflict in Syria began five years ago, over 1.4m Syrians refugees have fled to Jordan and now account for about 20% of the kingdom’s population. Demand for services like health, education and electricity are soaring. For example, since the beginning of the crisis there has been a 20% increase in water consumption at the national level and a 40% jump in the north. Jordan is the second-most-water-scarce country in the world, so the economic implications of this burden are certain to weigh on foreign investors’ calculations. The global community must share this burden and more tangible support is needed to enhance Jordan’s resilience and maintain its position as the safe haven of the region.
In what ways is the kingdom actively improving the environment for foreign investment?
ENSOUR: Jordan is taking a number of steps to improve the business environment and attract greater levels of foreign capital. The recent Investment Law has led to the creation of the Investment Window, a one-stop shop within the Jordan Investment Commission that houses ministerial representatives who are delegated powers to ease approval processes for investment-related decisions. We have also recently passed a public-private partnership law, which will encourage private investment in public sector infrastructure projects, and strengthen planning and implementation of public investments.
We are beginning to see the effects of the 2012 Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Law. The law streamlines investment into renewable energy projects and paves the way for citizens to sell electricity to the national grid. It has bolstered the alternative energy segment. Efforts to establish a credit bureau by early 2016, with new insolvency and secure lending laws, are also expected to improve the ability of banks to monitor debtors and enhance access to finance.
You have reached the limit of premium articles you can view for free.
Choose from the options below to purchase print or digital editions of our Reports. You can also purchase a website subscription giving you unlimited access to all of our Reports online for 12 months.
If you have already purchased this Report or have a website subscription, please login to continue.