by Hana Namrouqa | Dec 04, 2012

AMMAN — The Legislative and Opinion Bureau has posted the 2013 draft law on restructuring ministries and public institutions on its website for comments.

The bill, which was posted last Thursday, is receiving comments from environmentalists and activists who oppose one of its articles stipulating a merger between the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

Article 5 of the draft law stipulates that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs shall be tasked with all duties falling under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Environment.

Under the bill, all of the environment ministry’s funds and assets will be transferred to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, which will be renamed the Ministry of Municipal and Environment Affairs.

All legislation governing the work of ministries, as well as public institutions and directorates that will be restructured shall remain in effect unless amended, annulled or replaced, according to the draft law.

It also requires all public agencies that will be restructured to amend or prepare the necessary legislation within 60 days after the draft law goes into effect. The amendments and the new legislation will then be referred to the Cabinet.

The government will decide whether or not to merge the Ministry of Environment with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs based on reasonable and justified opinions for or against the plan, Minister of Public Sector Development Khleef Al Khawaldeh told The Jordan Times last month.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour first announced the merger decision early last month as part of a plan to reduce public expenditure, especially since there are 70 independent commissions and institutions with a total budget of JD2 billion.

The decision, the Cabinet said, is part of the government’s austerity measures and is an attempt to eliminate duplicity and improve government performance.

Environmentalists, activists and NGOs strongly opposed the decision, saying that the move will erase a decade of struggle to strengthen environmental action in Jordan.

They pointed that the Ministry of Environment attracts international aid worth hundreds of millions, while its budget is only JD3.4 million.