Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said on Saturday that Jordan's comprehensive political and socio-economic reforms program has achieved notable successes.
The Prime Minister was addressing the opening session of the sixth Government Leaders’ Forum, organized by the Ministry of Public Sector Development and attended by senior government leaders. Also joining the forum was Ireland's Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, who is here to showcase his country's reform experience.
Ensour expressed the hope that "everyone would appreciate the success of the reform drive that required a great deal of effort and perseverance as well as understanding, transparency and solid results." He said Jordan's public sector was one of the largest in the world, accounting for over 42 percent of state's total economy, while the global norm is up to 15 percent. "This is an unhealthy phenomenon", Ensour added.
Directly addressing the Irish minister, the Prime Minister said, "As you return to your country, take with you the impression that Jordan, a small country with no resources or enough water, unlike your country, is surrounded at least by three (ongoing) wars in Iraq, Syria, and Palestine. Apart from this, (one more) sad thing that happened there is represented in the closure of the Al-Aqsa Mosque to prayers for the first time in nearly 100 years." Ensour pointed out the similarities between Jordan and Ireland, not only in terms of area, population and dependence on human resources but also in terms of economic challenges, adding that Ireland had experienced financial challenges in 2008 after it was hailed as a success story. However, after the financial crisis, he added, it had implemented reforms and tough programs to achieve recovery.
The Prime Minister announced that the government today submitted the budget bill to the Lower House, rather early and in advance of the constitutional date, in order to allow the lawmakers to debate and endorse it.
On the sidelines of the forum, the Prime Minister met Howlin, in the presence of the Minister of Public Sector Development, Khleef Khawaldeh, to discuss the experience of the two countries in the areas of public administration reform.
Despite adverse regional conditions, The prime minister said, Jordan had managed to accomplish real reforms in the political, economic and social fields, adding that the Kingdom had focused on developing trained and efficient human resources.
He also said that Jordan is at the forefront in the fields of education, fight against illiteracy, women empowerment and public freedoms, and that it was able to significantly reduce the unemployment rate despite having received a large number of Syrian refugees.
The Irish minister praised Jordan's comprehensive reforms, and expressed his country's appreciation of the magnitude of the challenges facing the country as a result of the influx of refugees.
Briefing the leaders on a blueprint for evaluation of those holding senior government jobs with the aim to elevate their performance, Khawaldeh emphasized the importance of government leaders' empowerment in order to become a reliable reference in decision-making and in charting the general policy of the state, .
Howlin said that the Irish economy had suffered a serious setback in 2008 and 2009 due to the global economic crisis and economic flaws that occurred as a result of domestic poor planning which pushed up the unemployment rates and increased demand on public services.
He added that after the Irish government approved a financial support package offered by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, the Irish economy was put on a path of sustainable growth with stable public finances and job creation, while offering protection for the poor and most vulnerable groups.
Howlin explained that the Irish government had worked to increase the income tax, introduced property taxes and other fees, reduced the public sector workforce and wages by 10 percent, and had asked the Irish to work longer hours and increase productivity while using less resources.
The periodically-held forum of government leaders aims to exchange expertise and knowledge among the executive leadership, including the ministries' secretaries general, directors and CEOs of government agencies, commissioners of public entities, and to keep them up-to-date with the best practices in public service.