(MENAFN - Jordan Times) The government announced yesterday that all investment-related agencies will be merged into one entity to facilitate doing business in Jordan.
The announcement was made by Prime Minister Awn Khasawneh on Monday during a meeting with investors, whom he assured that Jordan's support for foreign investments would remain strong, emphasising the government's commitment to its legal obligations and safeguarding foreign investments.
The agencies include the Jordan Investment Board and the Free Zones Development Commission.
He did not give details but investors have complained of "too many cooks" when they try to start their projects in Jordan.
He also revealed a plan to set up a unit affiliated with the Prime Ministry to serve investors.
"No one should have any doubts about [support for investments]," said Khasawneh during the meeting with Arab and foreign investors at the Ministry of Industry and Trade attended by several ministers, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.
Yesterday's meeting, which came on the heels of a previous one which His Majesty King Abdullah held with investors a week ago, was intended to clarify government investment procedures and policies and to identify solutions for challenges facing their businesses, Khasawneh explained.
"There might have been minor and bureaucratic errors in executing business-related dealings, but this should not overshadow the entire image of Jordan as a state of law that provides an investment-conducive environment," the premier told the investors.
Stressing the government's respect for privatisation agreements, he pinpointed the need to review these accords to make sure they conform to the related legislation and ensure their maximum benefit.
In response to remarks about alleged corruption in the privatisation process, he said even if that was the case, this should not undermine investors' confidence in Jordan, adding that it should rather foster transparency which is an investment-attracting factor.
"I don't think that corruption belongs, in its utmost, to the privatisation process," the premier said at the meeting.
Emphasising that major partners' confidence in the country's investment environment has not been shaken, the premier cited recent statements by the EU, which expressed its desire to invest in Jordan and support the Kingdom with around 3 billion euros.
Other countries, including Gulf countries, Azerbaijan and South Korea, also have plans to start projects in Jordan, he said.
The premier said yesterday's meeting would be part of a series of regular meetings with investors to listen to their observations on the way business is conducted and any challenges that they face, stressing that all channels of communication are open.
Speaking at the meeting, Industry and Trade Minister Sami Gammoh highlighted the government's efforts to draft a new investment promotion law to address all challenges facing investors and set a clear action plan to keep investors updated on developments.
Gammoh added that 64 companies have approached the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources to invest in renewable energy projects, noting that projects worth JD200 million have been approved since he assumed office late last year.
Justice Minister Salim Al Zoubi said the government is working with the Judicial Council to establish courts specialised in looking into investment-related cases, highlighting amendments being introduced to legislation to address red tape.
At the meeting, the investors commended the government's speedy response and efforts to work out solutions for challenges hampering their businesses in Jordan, stressing the importance of continuing meetings with investors after they launch their investment projects in the country.
They also stressed the need for setting up the investment unit at the Prime Ministry, highlighting the country's stability and geographic location as important factors for investing in the Kingdom.
Also yesterday, the prime minister stressed the government's support for launching development projects in the Petra region as well as for upgrading services provided for Jordanians and tourists.
The premier made the remarks at a meeting with Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority Chief Commissioner Mohammad Abul Ghanam at the Prime Ministry.
At the meeting, attended by Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Nayef Al Fayez, the premier commended the strategic plan for the Petra region and its winning of the 2012 American Planning Association's Pierre L'Enfant International Planning Award, stressing the importance of collaborative efforts to ensure the development of the region.
Abul Ghanam briefed the premier on the services available in the region and the foremost problems facing it, mainly poverty and unemployment, especially among young residents.
He also highlighted the challenges facing the tourism sector as a result of the dwindling numbers of tourists.