Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Morocco: First Formal Meeting Of New Democratic Government

Morocco: First Formal Meeting Of New Democratic Government 

Morocco News Agency Staff

Rabat, Morocco --- 8 February 2012 ... Having won the vote of confidence in Parliament on January 31, the new, democratic Benkirane Government in Morocco convened for the first formal session on February 7.
To mark the occasion, King Mohammed VI chaired the Cabinet session in the Throne Room, the Royal Palace in Rabat. The main subject on the agenda was the Finance Act of 2012.

The King Mohammed VI opened the session by inquiring about the status of the crop in lieu of the cold wave and frost. The King also inquired about the precipitation rates and their impact on national agriculture in Morocco. Aziz Akhannouch, the Morocco Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, provided a detailed survey of the situation. He emphasized that the quantities of rain to-date were good for most provinces of the Kingdom, although some crops were damaged in the southern regions. He added that weather forecast was promising.

Subsequently, Nizar Baraka, the Morocco Minister of Economy and Finance, presented the principles of the budget for 2012 as articulated in the just approved government program. 

Baraka reiterated Benkirane’s commitment to utilizing the government’s expenditures in order to “strengthen the rule of law, strengthen the principles and mechanisms of good governance, and strengthen the foundations of a strong and competitive economy - thus generating wealth, jobs and employment.” 

Morocco’s budget plans for 2012, Baraka further explained: “also aims to ensure social justice, democracy, to restore macroeconomic balance, to promote social programs, to strengthen the equal access of citizens to basic services, and to establish the principles of solidarity and equality chances.” 

The Benkirane Government in Morocco is committed to “the creation of a fund dedicated to supporting the poor and the expansion of medical coverage for them,” Baraka added, and to the increase of the Rural Development Fund expenditures in the mountainous areas.

However, these programs and projects must be reevaluated and studied in view of the modified and updated economic projections. This reevaluation of projections is a direct consequence of the worsening international situation - especially the crisis in the EU countries, and particularly “the economic gloom” in Morocco’s most preeminent economic and financial partners France and Spain. 

Although the Benkirane program projected an economic average growth rate of 5.5% - Baraka warned that realistic growth will not exceed 4.2% in 2012. Even with these constraints, the government intends to meet its key macro-economic challenges - namely, a budget deficit not exceeding 3% and inflation limited to 2% - even though Baraka admitted that these challenges would be very difficult to attain.

Baraka then presented the revised measures in order to continue public sector programs and public investment and financing of major projects in view of the above economic indicators. Baraka explained that the government in Morocco would also support the establishment of incentive mechanisms in order to encourage private sector employment and self-employment, as well as the creation of job positions and private investment in various public interest projects. 

Chief among these is Benkirane’s “solidarity fund” in which private sector firms will match government funds in order to sustain joint programs. This approach would enable the government in Morocco to maintain the budget deficit within manageable proportions. Baraka acknowledged that a big question mark remains regarding the funding sources of the solidarity fund. 

Subsequently, the government addressed and confirmed several nominations for senior positions in the public service. In the process, Benkirane reiterated that the principles and criteria for appointment to senior public service positions will be dominated by commitment to strengthening good governance and the moralization of public life in Morocco. As well, all nominations will ensure equal opportunity, merit and transparency, unrestrained non-discriminatory - particularly on the basis of gender - public access to position application. Benkirane emphasized that these are constitutional principles that his government is sworn to adhere to. 

The Government also approved the bill on the fundamental guarantees granted to soldiers of the Royal Armed Forces. This law is a standardized and comprehensive legal reference to define, clarify and strengthen the fundamental guarantees granted to the military. This law also takes into account the unique nature of military service in Morocco - the troops’ obligations, the need to be impartial, accept discipline and self-sacrifice and the obligation to defend the nation and its territorial integrity.  

Friday, February 3, 2012

Morocco: Benkirane's Democratic Government Committed To Social, Economic Reforms

Morocco: Benkirane's Democratic Government Committed To Social, Economic Reforms

By Morocco News Agency Staff

Rabat, Morocco ... 3 February 2012 ... Morocco’s new Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane addressed the core issues of his government in the context of the Arab World’s “Awakening” in an interview with the Jordanian daily As-Sabil. Benkirane stressed that Morocco has produced its own unique model of reforms that is different from the rest of the Arab World. 

“Moroccan officials seized early on the message of the street and responded to it in a positive way, away from any ostracism or contempt for the calls for reform. In so doing, the Kingdom of Morocco has produced its own model that is different from those followed in other countries affected by the ‘Arab Spring’,” Benkirane explained.

All Moroccans have won, Benkirane argued, “for the population does not claim that the disruption of stability affected the activation and the pace of reform.”

Benkirane noted that the populist movement and the street protests in Morocco were driven by real problems.

He praised Moroccan officials for realizing from the very beginning that the problems were real and therefore must be treated with all seriousness. Indeed, the reforms announced by King Mohammed VI in the Royal speech of March 9, 2011, “were brave and were followed by the new Constitution and other positive steps, leading to the organization of transparent and credible election.”

Benkirane attributed his victory in the election to the climate of democratic reforms in Morocco enshrined by the King’s reforms process.

Benkirane readily admitted that he was surprised by the extent of the PJD’s electoral victory in Morocco. The party leaders, he noted: “expected to get 60 seats, but the people showed us confidence with 107 seats.”

Benkirane acknowledged the socio-economic and governance motives of the majority of the PJD’s voters.

“The people of Morocco elected us because we believe in justice,” he stated. Benkirane reiterated anew his commitment to personal freedoms and his rejection of any imposed program that might impinge on the freedoms of individual citizens.

He stressed he knows that most Moroccans, including PJD voters, are not Islamists. Benkirane is cognizant that “the people did not elect us because we are Islamists and will apply religion as we see it but because we believe in justice and will apply it.”

Benkirane emphasized the government’s commitment to social, economic and good governance reforms.

The Moroccan government “firmly believes in this reform program, really wants to serve the country and not just come up with slogans for electoral purposes.”

As the leading party, the PJD is facing the hardest challenge from the Moroccan electorate, Benkirane explained: “because many citizens see the PJD as the party most willing to enact reforms and change, most committed to the country’s stability and the party whose managers have proven their reliability and competence.”

Moroccans “do not wait for results in order to judge us, but only for demonstration whether our governance is free of patronage and corruption.”

Benkirane reiterated his conviction that the economic problems of Morocco are the main challenge facing the country. The new era of reforms - that is, of establishing good governance and the fight against corruption - will evolve from the emergence of a new economic posture. He repeated his call for Western investments from Europe, North and South America and belittled the significance of Islamists being in power.

Benkirane stressed anew that “everyone understands that their interests lie mainly with a stable country.”