Letter to Abdullah Ensour directing the government to develop a clear vision for the Jordanian economy for the next ten years

From King Abdallah II of Jordan
To Abdullah Ensour
RE: Developing a clear vision for the Jordanian economy for the next ten years
29 March 2014
Translated from Arabic

In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate

Your Excellency Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour,
Peace be upon you, God’s mercy and blessings,

I extend to you and to your colleagues in the ministerial team, my greetings and wishes of success, as you carry on your responsibilities diligently and proceed with executing the letter of designation I entrusted you with to realise specific goals, chief among them is securing our citizens with decent living conditions.

Today, the Jordanian economy faces a set of difficult challenges, resulting from successive crises as well as international and regional conditions, namely continuous suspensions in Egyptian gas supplies and the ramifications of the Syrian crisis, particularly the influx of Syrian refugees, as Jordan currently hosts 1,300,000 of our brethren Syrians, which is depleting our limited resources and creating enormous pressures on our infrastructure and national economy. This situation has led to an increase in deficit and debt over the past few years.

The implications of these difficult economic conditions have left their mark on the standard of living our citizens enjoy. Today, the number one priority and the foremost challenge our citizens face is to improve their living conditions and to secure better jobs that provide them and their families with a decent living and hope for a better future. These are concerns that I witnessed first-hand during my ongoing field visits. Price hikes and financial pressures our citizens face today are the hard realities we need to address. Accordingly, the state – in all its institutions – must provide socio-economic solutions and programmes to alleviate these burdens.

Over the last few months, I have followed closely the government’s performance, and the diligent and well-appreciated efforts it has exerted, which resulted in passing the budget, implementing economic reforms and enacting legislation in cooperation with Parliament.

In light of the recent challenges, we affirm our determination to continue developing our national economy and chart our future direction in tandem with efforts to secure decent living standards and a promising bright future for the men and women of our beloved Jordan. Against this backdrop, is of the utmost urgency that the government devises an economic blueprint to guide our national economy over the next ten years. This economic blueprint should have a comprehensive framework targeting the following: enhancing financial and monetary policies and assuring their consistency; improving economic competitiveness; enhancing values of high productivity and self-reliance to realise sustainable and comprehensive development.

In this context, I emphasise that the success of devising this blueprint hinges on adopting a participatory and consultative approach towards all stakeholders, namely governmental institutions, Parliament, private sector, civil society organisations and local communities.

The blueprint should build on accumulated efforts and institutional studies, such as the “Privatization Evaluation Committee,” “Governorates Development Strategy,” and “National Employment Strategy,” in an effort to benefit from these strategies in devising future socio-economic policies, with specific programmes and work plans that address short- and long-terms challenges. The blueprint must also build on the government’s policy statement and its program for the years 2013-2016, which have been presented to the 17th Lower House in its Extraordinary Session, on which the government won a vote of confidence, in addition to other national economic and political reform programmes. This shall provide a frame of reference for the current and successive governments in achieving sustainable growth rates and enhancing economic reforms.

It is important to emphasise here that the requested economic blueprint should be based on the following principles:
1. Preserving macro-financial stability and developing financial policies; improving Jordan’s business environment; enhancing policies that promote innovation and sectoral development; enhancing local governance and implementing decentralisation.
2. Supporting engines of growth; limiting budget deficit; preserving financial and monetary stability; enhancing competitiveness and investment attraction to generate more jobs for Jordanians.  
3. Strengthening programmes targeting poverty and unemployment alleviation as well as consumer protection and channeling subsidies to those who deserve it in order to enhance Jordan’s social safety net in an effort to protect and expand the middle class.
4. Supporting productive and entrepreneurial projects as well as Small and Medium Enterprises, through encouraging competition and preventing monopolies.
5. Elevating the quality of governmental services provided to citizens in various fields in a manner that builds on public sector reform programmes; giving priority to health and education sectors, in addition to training and employment programmes that meet labour market requirements; and assuring the highest levels of equality and justice in providing these services.
6. Ensuring a just distribution of developmental dividends by giving priority to governorates’ development programmes.
7. Devising a comprehensive system to enhance food, water and energy security and its diversification, in addition to expediting the execution of mega projects.

Your Excellency Prime Minister,
I shall emphasise here the importance of addressing this task with utmost attention and care to achieve feasible working plans, based on a specific timeframe with clear priorities and adopting successive action points, which are assessed in an institutional manner and are binding to governments. I also stress the importance of upholding accountability in measuring progress and achievement and a collective sense of shared responsibility as well as keenness to overcome shortcomings in the future.

It is of equal importance, that these directives are handled with the utmost seriousness and avoid laxity in execution, in order to enhance the credibility of the state and all its institutions in addressing citizens’ concerns and assuring the decent standard of living they rightly deserve. Above all, we do not wish for this economic blueprint, upon which we have very high hopes, to be a mere document that gets shelved away, but rather a productive endeavour, with tangible results and a clear timeframe.

We face numerous and difficult challenges, but our cherished Jordanian citizens deserve the best we can provide. We are confident that Jordan, empowered by the will of its sons and daughters, will overcome these challenges through team work, diligent efforts and follow-up, aiming to realise our vision for the future of Jordan.

Praying to God Almighty to preserve Jordan’s pride and prosperity through the hard work of all Jordanians and to help us realise the aspirations of our beloved people.

Peace be upon you, God’s mercy and blessings,
Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein