World Bank-Morocco : Putting one’s foot in it!
le 4 octobre 2017
The recent publication of a report by the World Bank, under the authorship of the economist Jean-Pierre Chauffour, followed by public presentations, have caused quite a stir in our country’s rather humble politico-administrative circles. Many senior officials expressed their reticence or even rejected the report outright which, if the truth be told, did not mince its words in its criticism nor its recommended solutions, which were equally troubling. But is the report really ‘revolutionary’ with regard to its findings or the measures recommended to achieve the clearly stated goals?
Findings that are well known and acknowledged
Without being smug or presumptuous, it could be said that although this report stands out in terms of its clarity, thoroughness, meticulous analysis, depth of information and data, it does not really reveal anything that is not already known by a certain section of the ruling class, analysts and experts. The various ills, numerous and serious, that plague Morocco’s economy and society are well known, as are the remedies for a quick and comprehensive recovery. Why then such a ‘furore’? First, because the document in question has been authored by the ‘prestigious’ World Bank which, together with the IMF, are the two ‘fairy godmothers’ who have stooped over the Kingdom’s cradle ever since the structural adjustment plan (PAS) was implemented more than thirty years ago. Receiving a document of this kind, akin in many respects to receiving a barrage of criticism, is not something that our public officials generally appreciate! Then again, because the El Othmani government, in office for only a few weeks, certainly did not expect such a public and frank ‘going over’, perhaps believing that it would benefit from what is commonly known as a 100 day ‘grace period’. The World Bank has vigorously shaken the coconut tree and the birds resting among the branches have been obliged to emerge from their torpor… But, when all is said and done, hasn’t the Washington-based institution done an honourable service to the government and the country by ringing the alarm bell, albeit rather vigorously? Are we prepared to accept that, today, one of every two Moroccans between the ages of 25 and 35 years is either unemployed or in a precarious employment situation?
Are we prepared to accept low productivity, excessive administrative red tape, an exploitative situation which benefits thousands of wealthy property owners, social suffering which impacts millions of households, the nation’s educational system which has disappeared without trace, a moribund health sector, public investment which does not generate enough wealth, taxes that are too high and especially iniquitous, a lack of accountability, male chauvinism and sexism which excludes women from governance, economic circuits and employment?
One doesn’t need to read the entire report, which recommends “investing in intangible capital to be able to access economic development… by 2040” (!), to understand that the World Bank’s main goal is not to criticise the Kingdom but to act as the much-needed catalyst in raising awareness about our nation’s human capital in order to bring about comprehensive, serious and, above all, rapid reforms? Read in this light, this report may then be considered as highly useful, necessary even.
It could quite easily serve as a roadmap for anyone who is serious about improving the economic and social situation of country, where the progress made over the past decade is in the process of melting away, much like the snow on the peaks of the Atlas Mountains in this scorching month of May!
We could also suggest to the leaders of our political parties that they use the report as a working document on the basis of which they could formulate a set of programmable initiatives, which are currently wholly inadequate. Unless of course these leaders, like those before them, were to give this highly significant report a miss or were to blithely flick through the magnificent conclusions of this report, drawn up on the fiftieth anniversary of Morocco’s independence!
In any case, the recommended ways and means outlined in this document for attaining the goals by 2040 – the span of an entire generation, no less! – are neither impossible to achieve nor utopian or theoretical. This is because, quite simply, they are based on the human factor – a nation’s only real wealth – which is the major component of its intangible capital and about which so much is heard yet never really seen, given that it is virtual!
It is in recommending difficult and courageous solutions that the World Bank report is at its most productive, interesting and useful. It ought therefore to be of the utmost interest to our public officials and guide their every thought process and actions, even more so as the incumbent government, rather like Sleeping Beauty, appears to have fallen into a slumber on this eve of Ramadan.
By way of conclusion, this report should be regarded positively, even though there may be reticence about the nature of the economic reforms suggested by the World Bank. In fact, while it is entirely reasonable and welcome to call for the July 2011 Constitution to be fully implemented, so as to provide a fillip to the reform process and build up this intangible capital of which this country is in dire need, the very strong bias in favour of deregulation and the growing liberalisation of the Moroccan economy, consistent with the beliefs of ultra-liberal economists in Washington, seems less positive. In fact, Mr. Chauffour and his colleagues, who condemn our country’s slow pace of industrialisation, are not hesitant in recommending a rapid and wholehearted adoption of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement which would, in the very least, further weaken our country’s industrial capabilities.
Original article : https://lnt.ma/banque-mondiale-maroc-pieds-plat/