An overdue economic remedy: Time for Jordan to take advantage of its tourism sector
Tourism only generates six percent of Jordan's GDP, but has the potential to generate over 10 percent in the upcoming years (File Archive)
Like many Third World countries, Jordan faces several challenges that authorities try to overcome or, at least, reduce their negative impact.
High on the list are low standards of living, poverty, high unemployment and excessive indebtedness. To these, many more can be added.
This article is to make the simple assertion that the answer to all these anomalies is economic growth, which enlarges the piece of cake before it is distributed among the population.
Growth creates wealth, reduces poverty, creates jobs and enhances the domestic revenue of the budget in a way that reduces deficit and the need for borrowing, or at least prevents it from growing fast, as is happening now.
Yes, economic growth can be the answer for all these and other challenges. Alas, achieving high economic growth is not easy.
The question is how to focus on this basic solution, meaning economic growth, instead of wasting time searching for partial and separate remedies for each one of the problems facing the country, and how Jordan can catch up with the advanced world where the per capita income is 10 times or more than the prevailing per capita income in Jordan.
Jordan tried central planning, it forged three-year and five-year economic and social development plans, but the results were disappointing.
If anything, public debt continued to rise, inequality became worse, causing the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer.
In theory, economic growth can be achieved through several approaches, individually or a combination of them, such as investments in new or existing projects, which should be encouraged and motivated to accumulate additional production factors to contribute to the augmentation of the gross domestic product.
Another approach is to enhance productivity, meaning increasing output from the available production outfits.
This may be possible through modernisation, automation, training and improving efficiency of management.
Among other obvious factors is attracting more Arab and foreign tourists.
In this respect, the role played by Jordanian expatriates could not be ignored.
They support the economy with their remittances in foreign exchange. They deserve more attention.
Admittedly, the massive drain of qualified personnel to the Gulf states may have a negative effect on the national economy, but Jordan was, and will continue to be, a school producing and exporting high-calibre personnel.
Economic growth is not mere enlargement in numbers or volume, it has to be built on sound, sustainable, basis.
This should give high priority to the implementation of the economic and fiscal reform programme, to deal with the fiscal and economic distortions.
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