Opinion: Jordan's Government Must Encourage Refugees to Return Home

Published October 31st, 2017 - 06:00 GMT
Syrian children at the Azraq refugee camp in northern Jordan (AFP/File)
Syrian children at the Azraq refugee camp in northern Jordan (AFP/File)

By Fahed Fanek

The Economic and Social Council, an official think tank, ended its silence and issued a report calling, among other things, for absorbing Syrian refugees and adopting them in Jordan’s regular economy.

This policy coincides with what the European Union is demanding in return for the simplification of source of origin rules and, consequently, allowing Jordanian exports to enter the European market.

The European Union is eager to keep the Syrian refugees in their present locations and to give them priority for jobs in the regular labor market, especially in industrial companies, in order to keep them away, so that they do not try to go to Europe.

Jordan industrial companies are required by the European Union to have at least 15 percent of their labor force from among the Syrian refugees. This rather high percentage has to rise gradually to 25 percent. No industrial company that fails to abide by this condition will be permitted to enter the European market.

The European Union does not care about the heavy burden over 1 million Syrian refugees puts on Jordan’s small economy. It is not worried to see unemployment in Jordan exceeding 18 percent.

One can understand the motive for the European Union’s call to keep refugees in the Jordanian economy, but why does Jordan’s Economic and Social Council call for the empowering of the Syrian refugees and their absorption in Jordan’s labor market, in its regular economy?



The Economic and Social Council knows well that it is Jordan’s policy to encourage the Syrian refugees to go back home.

This is happening right now but at a very slow pace.

On the contrary, the government is supposed to give refugees more incentives to return to their country and not to make their presence in Jordan permanent.

By the way, the Economic and Social Council, in its above-mentioned report, took a position against any increase in taxes and fees which, in its opinion, may worsen the present economic recession and generate additional risks.

The anti-tax camp has now found an intellectual supporter that it can praise.

The council knows quite well that all taxes in Jordan, direct and indirect, do not yield more than 25 percent of GDP. The normal rate is 40 percent.

Income tax, in particular, does not take more than 4 percent of the gross domestic product, an extremely low percentage, and 97 percent of Jordanian individuals are tax exempt if their monthly income does not exceed JD2,000 ($1418) a month.

This state of affairs is not justified in a country like Jordan.

If this is not enough, the council takes a position against the IMF economic reform program on the assumption that it complicates the economic growth problem, a position that puts the council squarely in the camp of the extreme opposition and rejectionists.



The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Al Bawaba. This article has been adapted from its original source.

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