AMMAN – Jordan’s prime minister Bisher al Khasawneh reshuffled his cabinet in the fourth shake-up since he took office a year ago, in a move that creates a new investment ministry and will allow the government more scope to tackle social and economic problems, officials said.
They said a royal decree approved the reshuffle that affects eight posts and established the new investment ministry to spur foreign investment and create much-needed jobs in a country facing a record 25% unemployment rate.
The British-educated Khasawneh, a veteran former diplomat and palace aide, was appointed last October by King Abdullah to restore public trust over the handling of the coronavirus health crisis and defuse anger over successive governments’ failure to deliver on pledges of prosperity and curbing corruption.
Khasawneh retained Harvard-educated economist Mohammad Al Ississ as finance minister. He won International Monetary Fund (IMF) praise for his handling of the economy during the pandemic and had negotiated a four-year IMF programme worth $1.3 billion, signalling confidence in Jordan’s reform agenda.
The government faces an uphill task to revive growth in an economy that grappled last year with its deepest contraction in decades, with unemployment and poverty aggravated by the pandemic.
But the government and the IMF both predict a rebound this year of around 2%.