Omar Razzaz, Agility is the Answer

Jordan’s King Abdullah II stands near Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz during a swearing-in ceremony of the new cabinet in Amman, Jordan June 14, 2018. Jordanian Royal Palace/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

To successfully overcome the challenges ahead, Omar Razzaz and his new government will need to move quickly and transparently.

A new government headed by Omar Razzaz was established recently. The administration’s main motto is agility. This means it will focus on human resources, transforming bureaucratic processes into smart applications and smart solutions, partnership with stakeholders, and proper planning. Another characteristic of an agile government is believed to be citizen-centric policies.

To achieve this the government has to focus on improving its services by embracing both a full automation drive and a genuine restructuring of its entities, including ministries and independent units. That means allowing digital and smart applications to take on tedious and non-transparent government procedures.

Steps should also be taken to trim government bloat, which comprises around 30 ministries and 62 public independent units. On the other hand, a substantial effort should be exerted to adopt a proper outsourcing mechanism that allows for transferring many of non-core government business to the private sector, especially SMEs. This could cover all types of services including licensing, payments, collections, construction or logistical services such as cleaning, security, in house transportation services, among others. A government that accounts for over 42 percent of GDP, with a public spending accounting for almost 35 percent of GDP is not an agile one.

However, it could turn into one if it works to increase growth and enhance private sector operation. The latter has to grow at least twice as much as the growth in government expenditure in order to be able to increase its share in GDP to over 70 percent over the coming five years.

Nowadays, the private sector accounts for less than 58 percent of GDP. Second, SMEs, which make up almost 90 percent of the country’s registered private sector institutions, have to play a bigger role in the structure of Jordan’s economy. They should be the main contributors to GDP, as is the case in all developed countries. For example, SMEs recently started to play a substantial role in UAE economy as they account for almost 60 percent of current GDP with an aim to reach 70 percent by 2021. They also absorb over 52 percent of total labor force, and almost 86 percent of the private sector employees.

To this end, an agile, citizen-centric government should work on enhancing SMEs contribution in the economy through technical, financial, and institutional support.

SMEs will help us reduce unemployment, unbalanced development, and poor economic performance. An agile government is also flexible and responsive. This means a capacity to change chronic and dated bureaucratic mindset and procedures. A quick look at the WEF’s Global Competitiveness Report, and the IFC’s Ease of Doing Business will give the government numerous ideas to quickly fix some aspects of the economy that only require some flexibility and agility or a responsive mindset and understanding. The current government is highly capable of being truly an agile, citizen centric government. The question is will the socio-political environment allow this transformation to happen?