Countries over the world fully grasp the important role good services can play in the development of strong and competitive economies. So why doesn’t Jordan?
In the current division of economic development stages for nations, only those with outstanding service sectors can say they are developed, or even in the process of becoming a developed economy.
Emerging markets that are leading economic growth globally, most notably China, depend largely on a modern and efficient services sector that connect the country to the outside world through transportation, ITC, marketing and innovation, R & D, and other services.
The services sector is the largest in terms of contribution to GDP in the largest world economy of the USA. The sector provides more than 70 percent of all jobs. It is also the largest economic sector in the world’s second largest economy, China, and it is the main employer there as well.
However, for an economy to enjoy the full blessings and the windfalls of a services sector it has to work hard on the standards and quality of outcomes. A highly standardized service means a better presentation for all other sectors. Strong, high quality, and developed services mean better services for industrial and agriculture products.
In Jordan, the sector at large accounts for almost two-thirds of GDP. This has been the case since the mid-1960s. Some sector players decided to follow best practice and keep up with latest developments worldwide, such as where both the Central Bank and private banks work together to combine best service with best practices in KPIs and in good governance. Other services were assigned to multiple regulators and ended up in a great mess, such as the case in the transportation services where we have four regulators and a ministry but the sector lacks the core standards to actually offer proper services. Ride-hailing services Uber and Careem, for example, had to effectively smuggle themselves into the country due to high barriers to entry.
Tourism is another example of mismanagement, even though the government and the private sector equally oversee it. The sector is weighed down by poor regulations and poor rule of law. We do not spend enough on developing the sector and without the support of many donors the sector would have been in a greater mess.
If we neglect a sector like tourism that contributes so much to growth, employment, and foreign reserves, then this means we are not managing our economic priorities. Jordan has to shift the way it does business. Services, including public sector and government services, are the main foundation for our ranking in both competitiveness and business reports. Given the way we run our services, no wonder we regularly rank so low in both.