Jordan cabinet has fresh faces but same problems
King Abdullah swore in Jordan’s new government on Thursday, led by former World Bank economist Omar Razzaz who will now attempt to tackle tax reforms while avoiding the nationwide protests that brought down his predecessor.
Sixteen of the 28-minister government retained their positions but the new cabinet includes seven women, the largest female political representation in the country’s history.
Rajai Muasher, a banker and prominent businessman, was appointed as deputy prime minister and minister of state for a second time.
Mr Muasher is an advocate for a greater role for the private sector in the economy, which is dominated by a bloated public sector. He was thought to be against the income tax proposals of former prime minister Hani Al Mulki.
The editor in chief of Jordan’s independent Al Ghad newspaper, Jumana Ghneimat, was appointed as government spokeswoman with the tough job of getting the public on board with Mr Razzaz’s yet to be announced reforms. She was a critic of the former government’s economic policy.
Mr Razzaz’s appointment was welcomed because of his reformist image and credentials, but experts have said the wider cabinet line-up was lacklustre, dampening hopes of real change.
“The new government is a reincarnation of the previous government, it will face a tough job selling itself to the public and gaining their trust,” said Jawad Anani, an economist and a former deputy prime minister.
“Mr Muasher will face a tough job balancing people’s concerns about further austerity measures and the IMF demands,” said Imad Hmoud, an independent business analyst.
Jordan’s economy has been seriously affected by regional crises, border closures that disrupted export routes, interruptions of gas supplies from Egypt and an influx of Syrian refugees.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait have pledged a US$2.5 billion (Dh9.18bn) aid package for the country.