The budget deficit that is expected to exceed JD1 billion is the major challenge facing the Jordanian economy, according to leading economist.

Senator Jawad Anani, former Royal Court chief and minister, stressed that closing this deficit through foreign debt is not as easy as before and recommended that stakeholders sit together to come up with a long-term solution to exit Jordan from its economic dilemma.

In a lecture on “Challenges Facing Jordan’s Economy”, organised at the University of Jordan, Anani said other challenges facing the country’s economy include lack of natural and energy resources for investment, unemployment and public administration.

Anani indicated that the rate of employees in the public sector is 45 per cent of the country’s manpower, describing it as “one of the highest rates in the world”.

As such, he said: “We should examine how to promote investment opportunities” to create more jobs for the youth.

He underlined job opportunities for Jordanians as a priority, noting that 70 per cent of the Kingdom’s population will be in productivity age by the year 2030.

He remarked that although the unemployment rate in Jordan is more than 13 per cent, the rate among the youth is the double at 26 per cent.

Anani said there should be more focus on the proficiency and productivity of employees in the civil service.

According to the economist, a comparative study between Jordan and Israel showed that the number of annual hours worked by Israelis is 10 billion hours, compared to 3 billion hours in Jordan.

He criticised the poverty alleviation strategies that were implemented in the country, noting that the money was spent on these strategies without achieving the intended results.