The Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation (MOPIC) and the World Bank Group (WBG) issued a joint statement today following the first World Bank senior-level delegation visit to Jordan since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic:
The Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Nasser Shraideh, met with World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa region, Ferid Belhaj, Executive Director and Dean of the Board of Directors, Dr. Merza Hasan, and Adviser to the Executive Director, Fawaz Bilbeisi, during their visit to Jordan on 8-10 June, 2021. Minister Shraideh discussed with the WBG delegation the ongoing and key priorities for 2021 and 2022, in particular the continuation of support for social protection, job creation (especially for youth and women), the economic and structural reform agenda, economic recovery, and investment promotion.
During a series of meetings conducted with the Government of Jordan (GoJ), private sector, and civil society representatives, the delegation expressed the WBG’s willingness to pursue their efforts to advance their longstanding partnership.
The delegation also reiterated the WBG’s extended support to help Jordanians through the COVID-19 crisis and to promote a resilient recovery and continued reforms were reiterated, due to the fact that the pandemic has inflicted a heavy economic burden on the Kingdom. During the series of meetings held, structural, economic, and financial reforms were deliberated with a perspective to help Jordan cope with pressing needs.
Jordan’s economy has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic amid already low growth and high unemployment rates. According to World Bank analysis, the Jordanian economy contracted by 1.6% in 2020. Unemployment rates rose during the fourth quarter of 2020 to an unprecedented level, especially among the youth. The pandemic has had particularly profound impacts on the service sector, travel, and tourism, which are key sectors for economic growth.
The WBG has adapted its country strategy and is expanding its support alongside the Government’s plan to help Jordanians weather the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 crisis while also building back greener and better. This includes emergency health and vaccine support, cash transfer programs to support vulnerable households and workers, support to sustain businesses and preserve jobs and livelihoods, and support to promote investments in a climate-resilient and inclusive recovery.
In the WBG fiscal year 2021 (ending on June 30, 2021), the WBG and other partners are preparing a package of over US$1.1 billion in combined loans and grant financing support for Jordan. This includes the Jordan COVID-19 Emergency Response Project Additional Financing which will allow for expanded and equitable COVID-19 vaccination coverage. With WBG support, 40% of the eligible population can be vaccinated to help meet the target of 75% of the adult population, which is critical for reopening the economy, schools, and hard-hit sectors. The WBG is also preparing an expansion of the Emergency Cash Transfer Project to support vulnerable households and workers impacted by the crisis, as part of the GoJ’s Takaful and Istidama programs targeting a total estimated 160,000 households under Takaful and over 100,000 workers under Istidama.
The GoJ and the WBG also see recovery efforts as an opportunity for continued reforms to promote investment-led growth and job creation— reforms that can be felt by Jordanians and the private sector. Since 2018, when Jordan launched the Five Year Reform Matrix, progress has been made on foundational reforms, such as: a revision of the bylaws for public procurement; adoption of a new Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) law; laws on insolvency and secured transactions; a climate bylaw and bylaws on monitoring and inspections; launching of a licensing reform; and reforms and expansion of Jordan’s social protection system.
As part of its package of FY21 support, the WBG will work with the GoJ to continue to advance Jordan’s reform agenda. The Inclusive, Transparent and Climate Responsive Investments Program for Results (PforR) under final preparation will support the implementation of critical reforms that have been initiated under the Reform Matrix. It will also help Jordan capitalize on opportunities for post-pandemic recovery, including green growth, tourism development, and female labor force participation. By strengthening transparency and accessibility of data, the PforR also will help Jordan enhance its accountability mechanisms to deliver effective new policies and investments.
The World Bank Group has been a long-standing partner of the Jordanian people. Through a strong WBG-Jordan partnership, both sides have agreed to continue their ongoing cooperation to support Jordanians through the crisis and to see this crisis as an opportunity to build back a better and greener economy, to promote investment-led growth and create jobs, particularly for Jordan’s youth and women, and to enhance social protection.