Monday, July 03, 2006

Meaningless gestures

Sometimes politicians emphasize irrelevant or trivial behavior for political more than practical reasons. Today the press has two examples of this. One is by the parliament and one by the government.

MP's are posturing over the issue of the sale of Umniah. Fifteen deputies have signed a petition asking the government to stop the deal, until the tax exemptions are revoked and the officials who gave the license are punished for squandering the rights of the treasury.

The deputies know more than anybody else that the tax exemptions can not be revoked because they are based on legislation passed by the parliament and on government agreements with the investors. Any attempt to revoke them would be thrown out in court, and would damage government credibility when trying to lure investors into the country in the future. A demand for the stop of such exemptions for future agreements is valid, but retroactive changing of the rules is not. The deputies know this, but are looking for cheap points. They would do better by talking about the government sale of its shares in Jordan Telecom, which they know they can't stop but at least can argue against.

The government, on the other hand, decided to strip a land grant from the Shahin group. In 2001, a previous government granted land in Maan to the group in order to build a Range Rover plant. The deal didn't go through, as the government wouldn't agree to buy a set number of vehicles from the factory (they wanted to sell 1000 per year to the Jordanian army). Anyway, nobody though that the deal was serious at the time, as Maan isn't considered to be a center for heavy industry. A glass factory in the city failed in the past despite the presence of some of the highest quality glass sand in the world nearby. Anyway, the government asserted itself by retrieving the (10's of dunums; a dunum is 1000 square meters) from Shahin. I can't imagine that a dunum in the area is worth more than 2 or 3 thousand dinars, and I am sure that Shahin wouldn't lose any sleep over the loss. However, the headline makes the council of ministers look tough.

I doubt that either the MP's or the government are fooling anybody. Please somebody tell them that people are not idiots.


At 5:20 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

At least those two news item have some information. Previously we had these news items in newspapesr saying "the government counsel met today and discussed many important issues."

At 12:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shaheen is going to London to re-base his operations soon. He wanted the governemnt to provide him with electricity and water in Ma'an in addition to land, and I think his firm has lost its bid for Disi as well.

At 12:03 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Issam: Lol! I am not sure which model is better.

Batir: I guess he can make due with the profit he made selling the BMW's to parliament.


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