A riot police officer arrests an unemployed graduate taking part in a demonstration in Rabat, Morocco, March 14, 2013.  (photo by REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal)

Moroccan Premier Must Do More to Address Economic Woes

Author: telquel Posted March 26, 2013

The state has become bankrupt. Business is running slow and banks are cleaned out. Some small and medium enterprises have closed down, and others are planning to follow suit.

SummaryPrint Following a number of economic crises in Morocco, Fahd Iraqi writes that the government of President Abdelilah Benkirane has done little to address the country’s most pressing concerns.
Author Fahd Iraqi Posted March 26, 2013
TranslatorSahar Ghoussoub
Original Article Lire l'original en français

A crisis like no other has struck us. It has reached its height with the arrival of the relatively new government headed by Abdelilah Benkirane. Nevertheless, it would be unfair, and even dishonest, to completely blame Benkirane for this situation, as he has inherited, and not formed, the government.

On the other hand, it's his job to get us out of this ordeal, or at least to do his best to help the economy overcome this critical period with the least possible damage. After all, he chose to run for election, and won. No one twisted his arm to do so. Therefore, he ought to claim some responsibility.

Yet, Benkirane is not even taking the trouble to try to solve, along with his team, the most urgent issues arising every day.

For instance, there is the payment crisis at Morocco's National Office for Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE), which poses a great threat to hundreds of companies in the electricity sector. Nevertheless, the head of government has failed to convene with the energy minister, the head of the public authority and representatives of the companies to try to come up with a much-needed immediate solution.

A man such as Driss Jettou, on the other hand, would have pulled it off. He would have even found a way to gently force the hands of bankers to support him through this rough patch.

Moreover, one should not forget the broadcasting sector. A state of ambiguity has prevailed since new regulations for public channels were proposed. Production companies have been technically unemployed, waiting for Mustapha al-Khalfi to take the trouble to submit his decision to the Governing Council and then to the High Authority on Audiovisual Communications (HACA) in order to renew certain programs. This is not to mention that it has been a month since the government's General Secretariat advised him of the need for such regulatory change.

This lack of activity and regulatory responsiveness on the part of the government mirrors the image of ministers who have been procrastinating instead of taking action. These idlers clearly are unaware that the country has its back to the wall and that every second counts. At stake are all state institutions, above all the prime minister’s office.

Moreover, one cannot help but wonder why Benkirane did not go through with his plan to reform the compensation fund. Undoubtedly, wrenches have been thrown into his works. A security report has been issued to warn him that people would take to the streets should prices soar. This is not to mention that one of his allies has made a media appearance to accuse him of an attempt to buy votes. This was enough for Benkriane to grin and bear it, as if he has been waiting for the first opportunity to backtrack and postpone the reform project for next year, God willing.

In short, we do not sense any eagerness on the part of Benkirane and his team to make the slightest effort to get things done. They rather continue to sell us their vision of a perfect society where corruption and impunity would be eradicated.

Well, this is commendable and even necessary, but it is not a reason to stop everything. They can try to reform while moving forward. In light of this acute crisis, we cannot afford the luxury of starting again from scratch. We do not need experts to theorize about the ills of our society. What we need are emergency workers capable of putting an end to this ordeal, saving jobs, reassuring investors and providing momentum for change. It has been a year and half since Benkirane took office. This has been a long time, a very long time. This has been a setback for democracy — but an essential phase!

Read More: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2013/03/moroccan-government-must-act-economy.html

Published Casablanca, Morocco Established 2001
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