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Atlas of Jordan

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Myriam Ababsa

Chapter nine - City Planning, Local Governance and Urban Policies

Municipalities and Issue of Local Governance

Myriam Ababsa

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1Local governance operates on two complementary administrative levels in Jordan: administrative levels in Jordan : governorates under the Ministry of Interior, and Municipalities under the Ministry of Municipalities. The Greater Amman Municipality, created in 1963 and revised in 1985, and the Aqaba Special Economic Zone are managed independently, under the Prime Minister. The Joint Service Councils were created to provide services (especially waste collection) for several groups of municipalities and villages (their number was reduced from 44 to 21 in 2001).

2Municipalities were established by law in 1955, three years after the adoption of the Constitution. The municipal system only covers the inhabited zones of Jordan, and excludes the badiya. There are four categories of municipalities: governorate centres (eleven plus the GAM), district centres (with a population of over 15,000), caza centres (with a population of between 5,000 and 15,000), and a fourth category for all other municipalities (fig. IX.1).

Figure IX.1 — Jordan’s Cities Categories.

Figure IX.1 — Jordan’s Cities Categories.

3The number of municipalities rose from 90 in 1979 to 214 in 1994 and the number of villages rose from 245 in 1980 to 382 in 1994; making each local administrative unit responsible for 10,000 people at most (Mopic 2006). The 2002 amalgamation process reduced the number of municipalities from 328 to 99, not counting Amman. Municipal debts towards the Cities and Villages Development Bank were recalculated. Recruitment of municipal employees was stopped because the main item of expenditure (55% of the total budget) was the wages of a plethora of under-qualified employees (only 4.4% of employees had a university degree in 2001, MOPIC 2006). The number of municipalities in the 4th category fell from 63% to 13% of municipalities in 2001, while the largest municipalities in categories 1 and 2 rose from 9.5 to 54.4% of the total (table IX.1 Mopic 2006).

Table IX.1 — The 2001 Municipal Amalgamation Process.

Population

Before Amalgamation

After Amalgamation

Number of Municipalities

Percentage of total number

Number of Municipalities

Percentage of total number

2 500 or less

103

31 %

6

6 %

2 500 – 5 000

105

32 %

7

7 %

5 000 – 15 000

89

27,5 %

32

32,3 %

15 000 and above

31

9,5 %

54

54,5 %

Total

328

100 %

99

100 %

Mopic 2006, Municipal Joint Service Councils Assessment Study, ERM, p. 10.

4The amalgamation of municipalities was intended to solve the problem of insolvency, while promoting greater participation of the population. The central government doubled the share of fuel taxes allocated to municipalities from 3% to 6% for 72 municipalities; the remaining municipalities received sector specific aid. These transfers are based on the size of municipalities, their administrative status and the income they generate (MOPIC 2006). However, this mode of distribution has never been respected and government subsidies are very political. Municipalities only receive a very small share of the state budget, less than 15%, while in other developing countries this share reaches 25 to 30% (World Bank data base), reflecting the lack of decentralization.

Amman Wadi Abdun.

Amman Wadi Abdun.

M. Ababsa

Municipal Deficits and Service Provision

5Figures IX.1 to IX.7 show the differences between municipalities in terms of size, budget, deficit and distribution of basic services. They were compiled from reports prepared for Mopic by Italian consultants (Lotti & Associati 2005, MOPIC RDLP). Figure IX.2 charts the development of the 99 municipalities after the reform of 2001, and the scope of the Greater Amman Municipality from 2007 onwards. It also shows the special economic zones of Aqaba and Petra, managed under the Prime Minister’s Office. Finally, it shows the extent of the eight major municipalities of Irbid, Ajlun, Jerash, Salt, Madaba, Mafraq, Kerak and Tafila created in 2001.

6In 2005, municipal revenues were JD 77 million, including 6.2 million from property taxes and 37.8 million from fuel taxes transferred by the government (49% on average, but up to 75% for the poorest municipalities). Yet spending reached JD 83.4 million, including 39.4 million in salaries (47%) (calculated from municipal budgets compiled by Lotti & Associati, 2005). All municipalities are dependent on government aid. Municipal budgets (excluding the GAM) are defined by a mathematical formula (Transfer allocation formula) that dates back to 2002 and takes into account many socio-economic factors, including population and facilities. The formula was being readjusted in 2012. Transfers to municipalities from the state budget, excluding GAM, decreased from 2007 to 2010: JD 74 million (2007), JD 71.5 million (2008), JD 68.5 million (2009) and JD 68.5 million (2010) (source: World Bank).

Figure IX.2 — Municipalities types and codes in 2008.

Figure IX.2 — Municipalities types and codes in 2008.

Figure IX.3 — Municipal budgets in 2006 (in millions JD).

Figure IX.3 — Municipal budgets in 2006 (in millions JD).

Figure IX.4 — Municipal budgets per inhabitant in 2006 (in JD).

Figure IX.4 — Municipal budgets per inhabitant in 2006 (in JD).

Figure IX.5 — Municipal Balance Accounts in 2006 (in JD).

Figure IX.5 — Municipal Balance Accounts in 2006 (in JD).

 

7Some municipalities are more adept at attracting fuel taxes, and manage to have a positive balance of payments, especially in Kerak where the Majali family controls many MPs, but also in Madaba and Muwaqqar south of Amman (fig. IX.3). Over half of Jordan’s municipalities are in deficit, the main item of expenditure being salaries, which constitute more than half and up to 84% of expenditure in Ruseifa, Zarqa, Mafraq and the municipalities of southern Amman (fig. IX.5). Amman has the largest budget (JD 400 million in 2011), followed by Irbid (JD 22.8 million), Zarqa (14 million), Mafraq (5.4 million), Salt (4.4 million) and Ruseifa (4 million). Relative to their population, the highest municipal budgets are those of Wadi Araba (JD 97 per capita because it is a priority area for the national programme for poverty reduction), Mafraq (JD 96 per capita due to expenditure related to the transport infrastructure at the crossroads to Syria and Iraq), and Marj Al Hammam (JD 89 per capita due to the new section of the airport highway under construction) (fig. IX.4). These figures are triple the average of JD 33 per capita in 2006. Irbid, with the largest deficit, had a budget of JD 54 per capita in 2006 and Kerak had a municipal budget of JD 49 per capita.

Aqaba, touristic view (Aila archaeological site).

Aqaba, touristic view (Aila archaeological site).

M. Ababsa

Aqaba, backstage (Shallaleh Camp)

Aqaba, backstage (Shallaleh Camp)

J. Al Husseini

Delegating Services

8Centralization has prevailed in Jordan since independence. Consequently, very few services are devolved to municipalities, although the 1955 Act assigned the management of 39 services to them. In practice, the central government provides all basic services: water (WAJ), electricity, gas, sewerage, primary education, healthcare, civil defence, public transport, housing (HUDC) and environment. Almost half of Jordanian roads have street lights, especially in the north (Irbid and Ajlun), the municipalities passed through by the highway to Aqaba appear to have more street lights (fig. IX.6), which is not the reality.

Figure IX.6 — Percentage of roads with public lighting in 2004.

Figure IX.6 — Percentage of roads with public lighting in 2004.

9Public-private partnerships have been encouraged by the government since 1996. “In 1999, the first privatization carried out in this context was that of Public Transport Amman. Since 2000, privatization increased. On 2nd July 2000 the Privatization Act was signed, the Executive Privatization Commission (EPC) replaced the EPU and Telecom JTC was privatized. In 2002, a free trade agreement was signed with the United States. The EPC comes directly under the Prime Minister’s Office and is responsible for implementing Jordan’s privatization programme, focused primarily on public services. The second global conference on public-private partnerships (PPP) in North Africa and the Middle East was held in June 2008. It was organized by the EPC and led to the launch of a new privatization programme. The Jordanian government’s clear goal is to use privatization to avoid having to resort to foreign loans. Whereas previously, PPP contracts covered sectors such as electricity, water and transport, many privatization or PPP projects currently relate to waste management” (Debout 2011). Waste collection is normally the responsibility of the Joint Service Councils, but only 16 of the 22 JSC collect waste (MOPIC 2006, Debout 2011). Figure IX.7 shows the disparity between collection capacity and the tonnes of waste produced daily. Zarqa has a deficit of one tonne per day, but the small towns of Madaba, Mahes, Hassa, Azraq and Hallabat are particularly lacking in collection capacity.

Figure IX.7 — Differences between solidwaste daily production and solidwaste collection capacity (in tons).

Figure IX.7 — Differences between solidwaste daily production and solidwaste collection capacity (in tons).

The Arab Spring and the Amalgamation of Municipalities

10During the Arab Spring of 2011, protests for the establishment of a constitutional monarchy and an end to corruption were accompanied by demands for the creation of new municipalities. After two months of protests, nearly one hundred municipalities were announced under pressure from tribal leaders not represented by the municipal boundaries established in 2001. The main issues were job creation and the control of land by local notables within municipalities. The 1955 Municipalities Act was amended in September 2011. It increased the quota of seats for women from 20% to 25% and raised the share of fuel taxes allocated to municipalities from 6% to 8%. The next municipal elections, originally scheduled for December 2011, are to be held in the spring of 2013. The Islamic Action Front, which boycotted the 2007 municipal elections, is once again calling for a boycott of the upcoming elections. It is to be noted that the municipal councils, which had been dominated by Islamists since the 1999 municipal elections, have been dissolved in favour of committees whose mayors were appointed until 2007.

11Large towns are under-represented in legislative elections. Hussein Abu Rumman proved this to be the case for the 2003 elections by dividing the total number of voters by the number of parliamentary seats (104, i.e. one seat for 27,431 voters), and comparing the number of seats per governorate with the theoretical number that would depend on the number of voters (Abu Rumman 2011). Figure IX.8 presents the results of the same calculation but on the basis of 108 seats in 2010 (not counting the 12 seats for the female quota and applying the annual population growth rate of 2.3% over the period to the number of voters). On this base in 2010, one seat should represent 30207 voters. Kerak and Ma`an are over represented. Amman, Zarqa and Irbid, inhabitated by a large number of Palestinian refugees, are under represented.

Figure IX.8 — Number of Parliamentary seats per governorate and beduin areas in 2010 compared to the acquired seats proportional to the voters.

Figure IX.8 — Number of Parliamentary seats per governorate and beduin areas in 2010 compared to the acquired seats proportional to the voters.

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure IX.1 — Jordan’s Cities Categories.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5043/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 188k
Titre Amman Wadi Abdun.
Crédits M. Ababsa
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5043/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 56k
Titre Figure IX.2 — Municipalities types and codes in 2008.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5043/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 176k
Titre Figure IX.3 — Municipal budgets in 2006 (in millions JD).
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5043/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 212k
Titre Figure IX.4 — Municipal budgets per inhabitant in 2006 (in JD).
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5043/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 204k
Titre Figure IX.5 — Municipal Balance Accounts in 2006 (in JD).
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5043/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 204k
Titre Aqaba, touristic view (Aila archaeological site).
Crédits M. Ababsa
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5043/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 56k
Titre Aqaba, backstage (Shallaleh Camp)
Crédits J. Al Husseini
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5043/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 64k
Titre Figure IX.6 — Percentage of roads with public lighting in 2004.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5043/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 208k
Titre Figure IX.7 — Differences between solidwaste daily production and solidwaste collection capacity (in tons).
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5043/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 216k
Titre Figure IX.8 — Number of Parliamentary seats per governorate and beduin areas in 2010 compared to the acquired seats proportional to the voters.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5043/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 159k

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© Presses de l’Ifpo, 2013

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