So here’s how it played out: After weeks and weeks of rumors that fuel prices would be going up (rumors that usually prove to be true), the Prime Minister announced yesterday that no such thing would happen. Mind you, the rumors were in fact first started by the Jordanian media.
But in the same pitch, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Ziad Fariz, resigned, with the PM ‘urging’ the King to accept the resignation.
The premier did not link the finance ministerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s resignation to the fuel prices decision. But an official source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Jordan Times that Fariz, who was said to be pressing for price rises to save the stateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s finances, resigned on the backdrop of the CabinetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s decision rejecting his recommendations. [source]
The government is searching for a little redemption here. It’s been battling election fraud, the Islamists, and a public that is sick of its very existance. So sick, that a lot of them have flooded public hospitals due to bad water and bad shawarmeh. And all this in less than 2 months. Public confidence in this government is at an all time low.
So you kind of have to appreciate the inside baseball of all this.
The resignation of Ziad Fariz was simply put, a sacrifice hit. The government has obviously been playing the media field (which it partly controls anyway) to build up fuel hike rumors, only to come in at the 11th hour and have the PM say, ‘Hey, not on my watch’. It’s then leaked to the media that the Finance Minister was ‘pressing for price rises’, thus painting the picture that the PM had to put up a fight with the biggest fiscal hawk in his own cabinet, only to come out swinging as the socialist champion; the defender of the common Jordanian, a man of the people. Robin Hood in a suit.
Suffice to say, it injects a breath of air into a hemorrhaging government that will need at least the appearance of strength to make sure Islamists don’t make any leads in the next elections.
To put a cherry on top of all this, the PM got to announce only 2 days after the King dissolves Parliament, that parliamentary elections will be held on November 20.
This type of political maneuvering has been done before and people with a good sense of recent history will recall such incidents fairly easily. I have to admit, that politically speaking, this is actually one of the few highlights we get to munch on.
And as for fuel hikes.
There’s no doubt now that this government is playing out its final scene. When the curtain falls post-elections, expect the next government to raise fuel prices some time in the first quarter of 2008.