The official translation of the Lower House reponse - novombre

Following is the official translation of the Lower House's reply on Sunday to His Majesty King Abdullah's Speech from the Throne:

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful,

Praise be due to God, Lord of the Universe,

Blessings and peace be upon His honourable Messenger, Mohammad, the honest Arab Hashemite Prophet.

"Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate now after Thou hast guided us, but grant us mercy from Thine own Presence; for Thou art the Grantor of bounties."

Your Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein, may God preserve and protect you,

Peace and God's mercy and blessings be upon you,

The 17th Lower House is honoured to extend to Your Majesty our appreciation and allegiance, thanking you for inaugurating the first ordinary session of Parliament, to enhance democracy which the Hashemites, with the support of all Jordanians, embraced as the approach to modernisation and development, activate public participation in decision making and maximise the importance of the parliamentary pillar in the Jordanian political system based on the Constitution.

Your Majesty,

After listening to the Speech from the Throne, the Lower House appreciates its content, which serves as a beacon for all the branches of government as they seek to carry on with reform and construction and consolidate democracy that is based on the will of the people who aspires to freedom, justice and a better life in a state of institutions and rule of the law. As you envisioned it, our country will, as a result, be always safe and secure and a model of good governance and democracy, founded on active participation by your noble people in decision making. It will be a country where the values of citizenship and loyalty are deep-rooted and where the ambitions will be realised through further development and modernisation of legislation. Through this, we usher in a new era of political action and streamlined relations between the legislative and executive branches and political parties, so as to reinforce the pillars of our reform process that is supported by constitutional amendments. These amendments have led to the creation of vitally important institutions as far as democracy is concerned, like the Independent Elections Commission and the Constitutional Court, so as to complete democratisation, entrench separation between the branches of government and safeguard people's rights and public freedoms.

The Lower House believes that protecting rights and freedoms is the basis of justice, the essence of citizenship and the most important pillar in the democratic structure. Homelands are protected by free men who are confident and capable of building the nation. The House will work on reviewing all the laws governing rights and freedoms and develop them in line with the requirements of a modern civil state, and in harmony with our international commitments. The Lower House will also support the Independent Elections Commission and the Constitutional Court as independent constitutional agencies that reflect Jordan's image as a civilised state and its democratic approach, to empower them to perform their duties in accordance with international best practices and to become centres of excellence in terms of performance and achievement.

Your Majesty,

The Lower House believes in the importance of paving the road for the stage of parliamentary governments, which started with consultations under the Dome. The House appreciates the future outlook of His Majesty regarding the evolution of monarchy, hand-in-hand with the progress in the reform process, evolution of platform-based political parties and emergence of parliamentary alliances that enable the formation of Cabinets by a parliamentary government, paralleled by a shadow government comprising minority parties. All of this should progress simultaneously with efforts to improve the work of the government and Parliament through organised development of the role of monarchy and its responsibilities represented in maintaining the balance and harmony between the branches of government, ensuring freedom, pluralism and democracy and safeguarding the security and stability of the country, until the constitutional monarchy takes its final shape. The Lower House is guided by Your Majesty's vision and takes your directives seriously. It has recently endorsed its internal bylaws, incorporating in them provisions that lay the foundation for the stage of platform-based parliamentary blocs with the aim of developing the work of the House and modernise its mechanisms in anticipation of parliamentary governments. In continuation of this democratic approach, the House will revisit the elections and political parties laws, in implementation of Your Majesty's vision and response to the aspirations of our Jordanian people, who seek just laws that support their interests, reflect reality in the community and contribute to the emergence of organised political powers.  The Lower House is keen on enhancing this approach to serve the interests of the country and the people, away from personal gains or political bickering. All of this should come in coordination and consultation with the government without any meaningless differences between the two sides, yet the House will keep performing its oversight and legislative duties.

Your Majesty,

The Lower House realises the need to move to political and administrative decentralisation. It will work on all pieces of legislation governing such a plan, including the Municipalities Law, to enhance public participation, better the performance of state agencies and reduce the decision-making circles so as to achieve inclusive and sustainable development and entrench security and stability for the generations to come. The House appreciates your initiative to set up the Governorates Development Fund and the ensuing government plan to upgrade infrastructure and improve the quality of health, education and transportation services, along with rendering governorates investment-friendly environments based on their respective competitive edges. This will generate jobs, reduce poverty and unemployment rates and improve citizens' quality of life. The House will assume its role of monitoring government programmes and plans designed to increase economic growth, improve productivity, create an investment-attractive environment and realise self-reliance. In the process, we should learn from past mistakes and translate that into practices on the ground that reflect positively on the revival and prosperity of the national economy. This necessitates that the government submit to Parliament the draft laws that can achieve these goals.

Your Majesty,

The Lower House believes that our reform process requires amending several legislations so as to render them compatible with the Constitution and within the set deadline, to prevent duplication and clash. This is a joint responsibility that cannot be shouldered by the House alone, although its role is vital in this context. The Chamber hopes that the government would perform all its duties in this regard. The Lower House will work at full capacity to look into all the pieces of legislation essential for the reform and development process, including the state security court and the independence of the judiciary laws, and endorse them after they are submitted.

Your Majesty,

Deputies have realised the magnitude of inefficiency in the public administration apparatus and the degree of deterioration in its performance, in addition to the plummeting productivity and deep-rooted centralisation in decision making at times and slowness and reluctance in taking decisions at others. This has reflected adversely on the majority of services offered to our people in towns, badia, rural areas and refugee camps. All of this has, in turn, reflected in fading public confidence in the state agencies and mounting criticism of their performance. Aware of the importance of the public administration apparatus and that of all its agencies, the Lower House endorsed in its non-ordinary session a law governing the restructuring of government agencies and departments, with the aim of preventing clashing jurisdictions and duties and waste of funds, in addition to achieving social and economic justice and avoiding wrong practices that have caused damage to the image and prestige of the state. The House will support all government plans and policies that support innovation, excellence, motivation of employees, productivity enhancement and better performance, so that citizens can sense the results of the White Revolution Your Majesty launched in the Speech from the Throne.

Your Majesty,

Because justice is the basis of governance, the Lower House is keen to realise the values of justice, integrity, rule of law and law enforcement on all without discrimination or favouritism.  In fulfilment of that, the House has set up, as part of the new internal bylaws, a committee of integrity, transparency and fact-finding tasked with following up all matters related to financial and administrative corruption in state institutions and graft-combating measures. The panel will also study the outcomes of the Royal Committee for Enhancing the National Integrity System to benefit from them.

The House stresses the necessity to provide the judiciary with all its needs to be able to perform its duties in serving justice, so that the judiciary will remain the protector of democracy and a fortress to safeguard the country's achievements and assets.

Your Majesty,

The Lower House, which represents the will of our great people, realises its huge responsibility to enroot democracy and a culture of dialogue. Despite some mistakes that will not be repeated, God willing, the Chamber will remain an incubator of the values of dialogue, pluralism and opinion and counter opinion. To enhance such orientation, the House introduced in its internal bylaws a conduct and discipline committee and drafted the code of parliamentary conduct Your Majesty had referred to. The aim is to start a new stage of work and achievement, adjust behaviour in line with democratic practices, preserve the prestige of the House, enhance voter confidence in it and achieve stability in parliamentary work.

Your Majesty,

The Lower House is aware of the seriousness of the regional and global economic crises and their impact on our economic situation internally. Therefore, it emphasises the need for the political reform track to go in parallel with the economic reform track, so as to push forward the process of development and growth and, ultimately, achieve prosperity. This requires the highest degree of cooperation between the government and the Lower House, and that each shoulder its responsibilities to stand up to face all challenges to revive the national economy and meet the requirements of development. It also requires the engagement of the various sectors and civil society in drawing up the plans and programmes necessary to drive the economy to the safety harbour.

The House appreciates Your Majesty's directives to the government to adopt fieldwork and reach out to citizens in their local communities to win their confidence and entrench decision making in a decentralised context, away from bureaucracy and red tape.

Your Majesty,

Secured supply of energy at reasonable prices and generated from local sources is a challenge that should be a key component of the government's policies. Although previous governments drafted a strategy for energy to achieve this goal, none of them applied this plan. None of them has either succeeded in providing alternative sources of energy, or managed to lower the cost of energy. In light of the global crisis and the rising prices of oil, gas and heavy fuel, and due to political and security instability in the region and the ensuing disruption in gas supplies, governments have to attach adequate attention to this issue. But none has sensed any sincerity in finding sustainable and effective solutions to this problem so far. The governments still rely on external solutions and unfeasible programmes to address the crisis, while reluctant to invest directly in energy and alternative energy projects, like oil, gas, oil shale and solar and wind power, among others. The programmes on which the government has placed its bets are of limited feasibility and do not deliver, a matter which jeopardises energy security in Jordan. Therefore, we see that the government has to expedite efforts to find workable and effective solutions to address the energy crisis, which constitutes the heaviest burden on the state budget.

Your Majesty,

Jordan's stand on the crisis in sisterly Syria, under your leadership, is truly nationalist and humanitarian, as it emphasises the need to adopt a comprehensive political solution that preserves the unity of the Syrian people and territories through a political transition inclusive of all the segments of the Syrian population. Jordan has been and will remain a safe haven for those whose countries have become too unsafe for them. Jordanians, under the Hashemite leadership, have always opened their arms and hearts to brothers and friends. As the House welcomes the Syrian brethren in Jordan, it appeals to the international community to shoulder its responsibility of aiding Jordan to enable it to provide essential services to the Syrian refugees, especially after their numbers have exceeded all forecasts. The Lower House stands behind Your Majesty and supports you in taking any measure you deem necessary to protect the interests of our people and country.

The House appreciates the role of our brave and proud Armed Forces and security agencies, the homeland's invincible shield and fortress, which work relentlessly and whose members are sacrificing every precious thing to defend the security of the homeland and protect its achievements. We vow to provide them with all the support they need and extend to them our salutations and regards. We want them to be the leader's source of pride and protectors of people's safety and security.

Your Majesty,

Your efforts to support the Palestinian brethren in the negotiations and your continuous defence and backing of the Palestinian cause in international events are a source of pride for us all. The Lower House emphasises that the peace process should lead to a just solution to the Palestinian issue based on international legitimacy resolutions, the Arab Peace Initiative and the two-state solution, within a fixed time frame and with [East] Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state.

The House also stresses that the Arab nation should shoulder its responsibilities and confront all Israeli attempts and plans to Judaise Jerusalem and change its identity.

Your Majesty,

As free men, we in the Lower House vow to continue with our parliamentary work based on the Constitution, perform our duties to the best of our ability, to cooperate with the executive and judicial branches of government and gear all our efforts towards serving this homeland and its leadership and people and to defend its security and stability. Our willpower is fuelled by Your Majesty's strong resolve.

Despite the obstacles and difficulties, we are confident in the ability of all Jordanians and in your wise leadership to rise to the challenge and undertake our responsibilities with courage, firmness and strong will.

"(This will be) their cry therein: "Glory to Thee, O Allah." And "Peace" will be their greeting therein! and the close of their cry will be: "Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds!"

Peace and God's mercy and blessings be upon you.