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Al Batayneh: The State’s Predatory Economic Practices in Jordan

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Eng. Saleem Al Batayneh

American author Helen Keller once said that the only thing worse than being blind is having sight without seeing. This sentiment rings true when examining the economic realities facing Jordanians today.
The famous phrase “the law is an ass” is often attributed to literary giants like George Chapman and Charles Dickens. While the origins of the saying may be debated, its meaning is clear – unjust laws cannot be legitimate, no matter their legality. Unfortunately, this seems to be the unfortunate truth for many Jordanians.
The Jordanian state has transformed into a tax-collection machine, seemingly more concerned with filling its coffers than serving the wellbeing of its citizens. From exorbitant fines and fees to intrusive monitoring systems, the government’s policies perpetuate a predatory economic environment that stifles, rather than stimulates, economic activity.
Whether it is the remote issuance of traffic tickets sufficient to cover a household’s weekly expenses or the steady erosion of disposable incomes through a dizzying array of direct and indirect taxes, the message is clear – the priorities of the state are misaligned with the needs of the people.
Defenders of these policies may claim they are simply enforcing the law. But as the saying goes, justice, not legality, should be the true measure. When the law becomes a tool of oppression rather than a mechanism for fairness, it is the government’s responsibility to course-correct.
Sadly, the Jordanian government appears deaf to the cries of its citizens. Arrogant declarations of unchecked authority over traffic violations only serve to deepen the divide between the rulers and the ruled. This blatant disregard for public sentiment erodes the legitimacy of the state in the eyes of the people.
The path forward is clear – Jordanian policymakers must abandon their predatory economic practices and embrace a more equitable, development-oriented approach. This will require a fundamental shift in mindset, one that prioritizes the wellbeing of all Jordanians over the narrow interests of the state.
Ultimately, true stability and prosperity can only be achieved when the government serves the people, not the other way around. The time has come for the Jordanian state to open its eyes and see the true cost of its actions. The future of the nation depends on it.

Al Batayneh was a member of the Jordanian Parliament.