Bisher Al-Khasawneh, Jordan's former foreign minister, was appointed prime minister by King Abdullah II. (AFP/File)
Amman - His Majesty King Abdullah has tasked Bisher Khasawneh with forming a new Cabinet to follow Omar Razzaz’s Cabinet.
King Abdullah accepted the resignation of Razzaz’s Cabinet on Saturday, 3 October 2020.
Following is the English translation of the Letter of Designation:
“In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful,
Your Excellency Dr Bisher Khasawneh,
Peace, God’s mercy and blessings be upon you,
I send you a greeting, full of respect and appreciation.
Following the resignation of the Cabinet of Dr Omar Razzaz, I entrust you with heading and forming a new Cabinet, which must include competent and excelling leaders, and must be capable of undertaking the responsibility before it, in accordance with the Constitution.
I have known you as a patriotic, capable man of integrity, and as a visionary who has accomplished much in all positions of public service you have assumed in various state institutions, which have led to substantial accumulated experience from decades of service in the state. You will be, God willing, up to the immense national responsibility entrusted to you.
This process of Cabinet formation comes during exceptional circumstances unlike anything the world has witnessed in decades—namely the COVID-19 epidemic and its repercussions, which have affected the whole world, with various countries still working to the best of their abilities to deal with them and alleviate their health, social, and economic implications.
To me, citizens’ health and wellbeing have and always will be the topmost priority, which demands that the government continue to take all carefully studied measures to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, in a manner that balances healthcare considerations with operating economic sectors and safeguarding citizens’ livelihoods.
These exceptional conditions also require exerting the utmost efforts to upgrade the healthcare system and enhance its readiness and capacities. I, therefore, direct you to immediately begin working to increase the capacity of hospitals and increase intensive care unit beds across the Kingdom over the coming few weeks; as well as moving forward in dedicating and establishing centres to conduct tests and expand the accessibility of laboratories in all governorates, in accordance with the highest quality standards; while also working immediately to establish the National Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases Centre to enhance our ability to deal with the pandemic and any similar future challenges, God forbid.
I also direct the government to utilise the capabilities of the health sector, within a centralised approach that enables us to respond quickly to this pandemic and its developments.
Work must continue to expand the number of health insurance beneficiaries to include uninsured individuals, and develop the system of comprehensive healthcare centres while ensuring they are fairly distributed in the governorates and capable of providing the best possible care to patients.
Over the past 100 years in the history of our proud state, we have always come out stronger after every crisis, and to turn challenges into opportunities. The COVID-19 crisis is merely one of these milestones that we will overcome, with God’s grace, and come out stronger and more resilient. Therefore, efforts must be directed towards ensuring economic recovery in the coming phase, through clear programmes with specific timelines and measureable steps to allow for evaluation and follow-up, leaving a tangible impact on limiting the pandemic’s economic implications, stimulating growth, and increasing the competitiveness of productive sectors.
Today, as we are on the threshold of the second centennial of the state, there can be no alternative to bolstering self-reliance by empowering our promising human resources and equipping them with the scientific, vocational, and technical skills that increase their competitiveness; properly investing in available resources; and capitalising on available opportunities in all sectors; while moving forward with economic, financial, and structural reforms to achieve comprehensive and sustainable growth and bolster the business climate and Jordan’s regional and international competitiveness.
Despite the ramifications of the COVID-19 crisis, it has revealed points of strength and promising potential in several sectors, especially food processing, pharmaceutical, and medical supplies industries. This potential must be capitalised on through an institutionalised, implementable approach that identifies opportunities, in order to creates job opportunities and enable Jordan to play a key role as a regional hub.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us, like others around the world, to close schools for several periods, but the doors to education in this nation remain open. The government must continue developing remote learning and assess and refine the experience, in line with best practices that guarantee students’ right to education, while also continuing to develop the entire educational system.
In terms of social protection, Jordan, over the past period, has been able to expand its scope to reach targeted segments. The government must continue developing the social safety system to ensure a decent life for all Jordanians, tie it to health, education, and employment, and seek to reflect its positive impact on all segments of society. The development that took place amidst the COVID-19 pandemic must be utilised to continue implementing support programmes through the National Aid Fund, while following best practices, based on the national registry.
The government must continue developing and regulating the agricultural sector, while boosting the adoption of modern technology to boost and diversify productivity, leading to the opening of new export markets and bolstering the Kingdom’s food security.
Considering tourism’s key contributions to our national economy, and being one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, consolidated efforts and innovative solutions are needed to mitigate the damage and focus on domestic tourism and improving and diversifying the tourism product, in order to sustain tourism establishments and guarantee continued activity in the sector. This current period, marked by a drop around the world in the number of tourists, must be used to devise pre-emptive medium- and long-term plans, and prepare effectively to welcome tourists once the global epidemiological outlook improves.
As for energy, the government must continue with restructuring the sector, reflecting positively on enhancing the efficiency of energy utilisation in all sectors, reduce its cost on the national economy, develop the sector towards energy security and more reliance on domestic resources.
The government must also expedite work to improve and activate a sustainable public transport system, and enhance the efficiency of public transport means by utilising technology, renewable energy, and smart solutions, while building the capacities of sector workers. Bolstering the sector will have a major impact on encouraging women and young people to seek employment.
As for small- and medium-sized enterprises, which form part of the cornerstone of the national economy, the government must design programmes to empower them, due to their key impact on economic growth and employment, which requires providing an ecosystem that enables entrepreneurs to launch and maintain their start-ups to serve the nation and the region.
Partnership among the state’s various sectors is integral to the success of plans and programmes. The government must maintain a national participatory effort, based on activating cooperation and partnership with the private sector to draw up a clear roadmap, with specific timeframes.
Procedures must be facilitated for national and foreign investment, and steps must be taken to attract investments in strategic megaprojects and complete public-private partnership projects that serve development across the Kingdom.
The state’s administrative apparatus must also be developed. A scientific study must be implemented over the next three months, and recommendations must be presented on the possibility of merging some ministries and entities, to enhance the efficiency of the public sector, improve the level of services, and control expenditures.
All of the above calls for proper and realistic state budget planning that reflects projected revenue and expenditures, and focuses on incentivising production and continuing to enhance services, while ensuring the efficient management of state resources and prudent spending, as well as improving revenue through combating tax and customs evasion without affecting citizens and the private sector. This requires the continued development of the tax and customs systems and refining their tools, in a manner that safeguards the Treasury’s interests, and enables the provision of the quality services that citizens deserve, and the focus on bolstering financial and monetary stability and fortifying the national economy against crises and emergencies.
The essence of justice and equality among citizens lies in the reinforcement of the rule of law, based on transparency and accountability. The government must uphold this principle in all its measures and procedures, for Jordan is a state of law and institutions, and this means all—individuals, institutions, and powers—must be held to the rule of law, which cannot be imposed selectively.
The people have a right to rest assured that public funds are safeguarded, that public institutions are administered efficiently, and that government measures are monitored and evaluated by strong and effective oversight institutions. Moving forward with the implementation of the e-government programme is also a priority that facilitates procedures for the public and serves efforts to fight corruption, against which there can be no complacency.
As for the upcoming parliamentary elections, I direct the government and all state institutions to support the Independent Election Commission and provide it with all the necessary methods to guarantee free and transparent elections, worthy of Jordan’s reputation and its democratic process. All preventive measures must also be taken to protect the health of citizens in the upcoming period and while voting.
Our Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army and security agency personnel are a source of pride, and we thank them and appreciate their professionalism, immense capabilities, selflessness, and honourable Jordanian ethics. We must continue to support them, in terms of training, preparation, and armament, and enabling them to afford a decent living, in order to continue to undertake the responsibility of protecting our dear nation.
Our brothers in arms, retired servicemen and veterans, are the pillar of support for the armed forces and security agencies, and a stalwart of our national security system. Therefore, the government must work to improve their living standards.
Our position on the Palestinian cause is firm and clear. It is at the top of our priorities, and we will continue to exert all efforts towards the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, on the 4 June 1967 lines, based on the two-state solution.
We will persist in undertaking our historical responsibility in safeguarding Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem—in line with the Hashemite Custodianship—and we will continue to counter all attempts seeking to alter the historical and legal status quo in the city. We also reaffirm the need to provide all manner of support to the Palestinians.
I also direct the government to prioritise work to enhance coordination and joint Arab action, and expand economic, trade, and investment cooperation, to serve shared interests and Arab causes, while also having a positive impact on Jordan.
You are today before an enormous responsibility during unprecedented circumstances, which demand that the government and all state institutions work as one team, in word and deed, to secure the achievements that our dear nation and people deserve. Therefore, you must exert all efforts in service of the homeland and its citizens.
We await your recommendations on Cabinet members, and we pray that God grant you success and sound judgement in selecting whom you trust are capable of undertaking their responsibilities.
God is the arbiter of success.
Peace, God’s mercy and blessings be upon you.
Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein