The Jordanian private sector has failed to cope with the government's recent economic reforms, a senior government official said. Deputy Prime Minister Mohammad Halaiqah, who was addressing members of the Jordan Businessmen Association late Thursday, February 22, urged the private sector to take the initiative in financing some of the projects the government has launched, especially in the water and energy sectors.
Halaiqah said the business community could also compete with foreign investors and launch projects in the Special Economic Zone in Aqaba. The minister said that among the projects the private sector can finance is the Jordan-Iraq oil pipeline project, which will replace the land transportation of oil from Iraq to Jordan.
Halaiqah, a former minister of trade and industry, said the private sector can help with water projects in Jordan especially the Disi project, which will provide Amman with an additional 100 million cubic meters of water every year which will help the Kingdom cope with its chronic water shortage.
The minister said that Jordan will go ahead with the implementation of the long-awaited project and will not wait for Libyan and Iranian assistance in the project. Jordan is currently negotiating with Libya and Iran for partial financing of the multimillion-dollar project. The talks have not reached any agreement with the two parties. He indicated that private sector could join the regional gas project, which Jordan has signed with Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.
The official urged the private sector to join the government in formulating a 15-year national plan. Halaiqah said that many government projects have failed in the past few years, which led to the loss of hundreds of millions of dinars. He said among these projects is the Karameh Dam, which cost 52 million Jordanian dinars ($73 million) to build, and is not utilized to capacity.
The government official said that mismanagement was responsible for the “serious condition” that the Jordan Phosphate Mines Company (JPMC) is in and that previous government and board of directors of the JMPC were responsible for the deterioration of the firm's condition. He added that the government has adopted a plan to privatize some of the company's operations including transportation and some of the managerial activities. The minister did not rule out the privatization of the Arab Potash Company or the restructuring of the firm's operations.
The official said that the government will go ahead in privatizing the electricity sector in Jordan and urged the private sector to be involved in this process. Halaiqah indicated that the government has not received any acceptable offers from foreign investors to buy Royal Jordanian Airline — the national carrier.
The minister said that he was opposed to signing new trade protocols with Arab states “which proved to have many problems,” adding that the government prefers to have free trade agreements with these countries instead of protocols. — ( Jordan Times )
By Tareq Ayyoub
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )