Jordan yesterday unveiled a major development strategy covering the next ten years and seeking to double its growth to help rejuvenate its economy which has been hit by regional turmoil, Reuters reports.
The plan includes reforms pushed by King Abdullah since last year to help the oil importing country reverse a decade of sluggish growth hovering at around two per cent that was worsened by the pandemic and conflicts in neighbouring Iraq and Syria.
The vision aims at attracting $41 billion in funds that will help raise the country’s GDP to 58.1 billion dinars ($82 billion) by 2033 from a current 30.2 billion dinars ($42.6 billion).
Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh said he was committed to implementing essential free market reforms that businessmen say previous conservative administrations have long frustrated.
“We don’t have the luxury not to empower the private sector or the luxury of putting hurdles in the face of investors,” Al-Khasawneh told the gathering of hundreds of businessmen, civil servants, and politicians who were invited by the palace to brainstorm and lay out the plan.
The traditional conservative establishment had long been blamed for obstructing a modernisation drive pushed by the Western-leaning monarch, fearing liberal reforms will erode their grip on power.
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Al-Khaswaneh said the government would also soon unveil a reform plan for a bloated public sector that expanded rapidly as successive governments sought to appease citizens with state jobs to maintain stability.
The runaway spending contributed to soaring public debt of $40 billion, equivalent to 90 per cent of gross domestic product, which Jordan has been struggling to rein in.
Jordan has however in the last two years won praise for a strong performance under a four-year IMF backed programme of structural reforms that brought fiscal prudence while avoiding austerity moves that triggered social unrest in past years.
The document said a key challenge was to absorb over a million youths in the next ten years and reverse record unemployment that hit 24 per ent in a country where over a third of its ten million population are under the age of 14.
“After ten years if we don’t find solutions ..we will have a million Jordanians without jobs,” Al-Khaswaneh said.