Jordan: Concentration of powers under IMF oversight

Austerity is a major concern for civil society in Jordan. According to the alternative report by Ahmad M. Awad, from the Phenix Center, Measures of ‘fiscal consolidation’ started in 2016 as a condition to unlocking access to IMF aid. Austerity measures were thus implemented, leading to rises in fuel prices, as well as in both the sales taxes and customs.”

Nearly half of the Jordanian labour force works in the informal economy, which together with “the continued implementation of business-friendly labour policies, resulted in rising unemployment. Many began to see their ability to afford basic commodities threatened – a predicament termed 'transient poverty.' Among unskilled workers, waves of migrant workers and refugees (many desperate) have saturated the market – one hardly bound by any minimum-wage constraints – triggering a race to the bottom.” At the same time, “numerous political and legislative institutions had been severely weakened.

The impact of civil society in meaningful public policy debate had all but vanished, and nearly all instances of social dialogue on labour issues seemed to have been predetermined in favour of employers and “the possibilities for productive social dialogue and the development of policies based on agreements between workers, employers, and government seem ever more distant”. Thus policies “have been repeatedly prescribed, recommended and defended by the IMF [that] have, for the most part, disproportionately impacted the poorer segments of the country's population.” While this clearly contradicts the SDGs, “Jordan's bilateral and multilateral partners seem to remain either oblivious or unwilling to react to this fact, as well of that of the erosion of democratic oversight through power accumulation, under the supervision of an international financial institution.”

Source: Jordan National Report 2018.