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Royal Hashemite Court (Jordan)

Better business environment vital to growth - King
Amman, 15 May 2013

His Majesty King Abdullah on Wednesday met with private and public sector representatives and discussed ways to overcome obstacles facing businesses and investments, asserting the importance of working diligently to confront economic challenges, attract investments and create jobs.

King Abdullah said improving the investment and business environment was a national responsibility that should be shouldered by both the public and private sectors.

The King stressed the need for activating one-stop shops for investors, intensifying efforts to overcome weak coordination and follow up with concerned departments to avoid duplication in decision-making.

“Governments established several investment offices in the past few years but they were not fully activated and this is not acceptable,” His Majesty said during the meeting, which was also attended by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II.

“The private sector is one of the main pillars of our economy. It has a key role in providing business opportunities for our sons and daughters, and the government should continue to back this sector,” the King said.

His Majesty called on all concerned parties to work hard to achieve a clear and well defined mechanism to improve the Kingdom’s business environment, facilitate investments and help them follow up on their progress.

The King highlighted the gap between investment-related legislation and the situation on the ground when it comes to implementing projects, which has adversely affected the business environment.

According to His Majesty, this has weakened the country’s ability to draw foreign investments, which are considered the most important employment source for Jordanians and a key contributor to economic growth.

Indicators measuring the progress of the business and investment environment have recorded a regression, as shown by international reports, said the King, reiterating the need for concerted efforts to improve the investment environment.

His Majesty cited several investment projects that were not implemented in the past few years due to the absence of streamlined procedures. One failed project alone denied Jordanians the chance to benefit from around 700 jobs, the King said.

“This means that 700 families were deprived from a valuable source of income,” His Majesty said, adding that there have been many similar failed cases.

The King directed the government to assist the private sector to overcome its challenges, since it is the principal partner in the economic reform process and the main means to confront poverty and unemployment.

He said the public and private sectors should strive to pave the way for building partnerships between Jordanian and foreign investors, so that the country might benefit from development zones and the geographic location of Aqaba, as the gate to African and Middle East markets.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said the economic situation is the main source of citizens’ concern and has been at the centre of government attention.

Ensour stressed that the government has been working to improve and enact pieces of legislation that ensure support for economic activity. The government has referred the Investment Law to the Lower House to address its shortcomings, overcome red tape and grant exemptions.

Ensour urged investors and businessmen to share their feedback on the law to help the Lower House complete its deliberations and endorse it as soon as possible.

The premier said there has been a positive increase in liquidity levels this year as a result of government measures, while acknowledging slow licensing procedures for industrial and investment projects. “This should not be the case,” he noted.

Following the meeting, Industry and Trade Minister Hatem Halawani said the King stressed that all obstacles facing investors should be eliminated and the new investment law finalised. “We will cooperate with the Lower House so as to have it endorsed soon,” the minister said.

Bassem Asaad, a company executive, said: “We have outlined all the problems and obstacles facing investors in the Kingdom before His Majesty. These include red tape and investors not being able to determine the party concerned with resolving problems.”