By Siham Ali
Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane reassured MPs Monday (August 13th) over the country’s economic situation.
While he said the economy was certainly a concern, it was still manageable despite the difficulties. The head of government said the precautionary credit line extended to Morocco by the IMF, totalling 6.2 billion dollars, would make it possible to deal with rising oil prices. He also saw it as a way to reassure domestic and foreign investors given the confidence shown in Morocco by international lending institutions.
A number of measures are to be introduced, notably the rationalisation of administrative expenditure, encouragement of exports and a reduction in imports.
In addition to economic measures, considerable efforts will have to be made at the social level to help the public, particularly the underprivileged, Benkirane said. He stressed that although official figures certainly show that poverty is falling, the situation on the ground says quite the opposite.
“There is still hunger in Morocco,” Benkirane said.
The opposition has criticised Benkirane’s position. Mohamed Hanine, a National Rally of Independents MP, told Magharebia on August 13th that the head of the executive was big on words, but nothing has actually been done on the ground to improve daily life for the people.
“The government has no alternative, and no clear political vision. Over seven months, the government has done nothing to help the public. Quite the opposite, in fact; it has decided to increase fuel prices,” Hanine stated.
Meanwhile, Ahmed Zaidi, who leads the socialist group in Parliament, stressed that the results were disappointing and that the government could have been more proactive when drafting the finance bill, especially as opposition MPs had already raised the alarm.
He criticised the temporary projects started by the government, such as the fight against corruption. The opposition politician also voiced disapproval with Benkirane for stressing that he was “simply a head of government whereas the constitution has granted him broad powers unlike his predecessors”.
Benkirane has said on a number of occasions that it is the king who bears ultimate responsibility and he is only the head of the government. Those words have not gone down well with the public, who want action.
That was emphasised by citizen Ali Chennaoui. He feels that Benkirane has not taken a strong enough stance, even though legally he has all the powers he needs to exercise wide-ranging authority.
“It’s the people who brought Benkirane to power. He can’t backtrack now. It’s only natural that the king should take the lead, because Benkirane has failed to fulfil his mission voluntarily,” Chennaoui said, stressing that economic and social problems cannot be resolved without political daring.
“When I say that I am only the head of government, that is not to play down my importance. But it is the king who is our guarantor of stability and the key person with responsibility for constitutional implementation,” Benkirane said.
The prime minister has said that courage is evident among the government, which has decided to speak the truth by releasing statistics that had always been hidden away in the past. As for the fight against corruption, he said the government has not backtracked, but the issue is a complex one and requires unremitting effort.