As a general rule, upstream and downstream Policy work is the underlying factor to achieving tangible and sustainable results of technical interventions, especially when it comes to development work as needs are continuously evolving. Enabling the growth of competitive MSEs and ensuring that economically vulnerable groups can participate in economic benefits, requires a regulatory environment where new entrants with drive and good ideas, regardless of their position in society, can get started in business and where firms can invest and grow without government interference. While the Government of Jordan, with USAID support, has reduced some barriers to firm competitiveness, many remain and challenges for microenterprises in particular are often overlooked.
USAID LENS Work
On the one hand, the project focuses on upstream policy reforms to contribute to creating adequate legislative, institutional and operational environments that are conducive for economic growth; mainly at the local level. On the other hand, LENS-specific policy work is designed in an integrated and synchronized way with other technical components to ensure inclusiveness of technical support and sustainability thereafter.
- A government decision came out in late September 2016 to exempt 24 beekeeping production inputs from customs duties. The decision was published in the Official Gazette in its October 2016 issue. LENS held a stakeholders meeting in March 2016 to call for tax/custom exemption on beekeeping production input that involved representatives from Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Finance, Jordan Investment Commission and Beekeeping Union. As an outcome of that meeting, a letter was sent to the Prime Ministry and subsequently transmitted to the Ministry of Finance for opinion, which results in this policy decision.
- The Land Transport Regulatory Commission (LTRC) officially enforced the 2014 Regulations requiring commercial truck drivers to gain new certifications that meet international standards. These requirements are in line with Jordan’s commitment under the European Agreement concerning the work of vehicles engaged in international road transport (AETR). The AETR has now been adopted by the UN and so will be required by an increasing number of countries in the region. The enforcement of the Regulations is the first approved action out of 3 transport-related policies that are linked to the 2015 PIL signed between USAID LENS and LTRC.
USAID LENS had developed a curriculum for the MSE training program and implemented a TOT effort that so far has reached 80 Training Centers and 146 trainees. The curriculum will now be implemented through providing ongoing training to MSEs through these qualified training centers. By the end of the first quarter of 2017, USAID LENS will reach at least 1,200 MSEs.
The new Municipal Financial System Regulations were passed and approved by the Cabinet, and subsequently published in the November 2016 issue of the Official Gazette. This policy issue emerged as a priority in June when technical assistance was requested by the Director of Legal Affairs in the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. USAID LENS performed a comprehensive revision of the Regulation on the Municipalities Financial System in light of the New Municipalities Law and the Jordanian public financial management system. The majority of its recommendations made by LENS were adopted by MOMA/GOJ.
- The Ministry of Municipal Affairs officially passed and issued “Buildings and Lands Zoning Bylaws” that came into effect on January 1st 2017. This is a result of USAID LENS ongoing public advocacy efforts on behalf of Home Based Businesses (HBB) that included conducting extensive analysis of the industry; working with major multilateral organizations such as the World Bank to organize and improve the legislative framework of the HBB industry; developing and submitting policy papers and concept notes to various stakeholders; and demonstrating the importance and economic value of HBBs. These bylaws include an article allowing HBBs to license from home. This is a great opportunity for USAID LENS and HBBs to move forward in advancing their potential more broadly and making a greater contribution to Jordan’s economic development.