ISSN 2330-717X

Morocco: Audit Sparks Debate

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By Siham Ali

A recently published report from Morocco’s audit court is at the centre of political and media discussion. The study took aim at a number of institutions, including Royal Air Maroc, the National Office for Drinking Water and others, for alleged corruption and funds embezzlement.

The court carried out 120 inspections among state departments, companies, public institutions and local authorities to reach the conclusions made public on March 28th.

Among weaknesses, the report cited adherence to transparency rules in co-ordinating work and monitoring completed assignments, financial profitability and abilities of the human resources responsible for managing investments.

The main source of discussion now is how these cases are being followed up by the courts to crack down on the misappropriation of public funds and to ensure they are used in an optimal way.

According to the court, legal action will follow in cases where identified failings were found to have breached the rules on revenue spending and resulted from dishonest activities by managers.

Many people have high hopes for new Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid, although some doubt his ability to deal with pockets of resistance. The minister has set up a commission comprising four magistrates who specialise in financial crimes to look into the cases referred by the court of audit.

The commission’s task will be to detect contraventions which are criminal in nature, so that they can be handed on to the courts.

Meanwhile, Communications Minister and government spokesman Mustapha El Khalfi said that the government would ensure that the recommendations contained in the annual audit would be acted upon. He stressed that this is part of the government’s determination to promote good governance and to implement the relevant measures, particularly those relating to transparency, the rule of law, accountability and the active involvement of governing bodies.

Political analyst Samir Bachri commented that Abdelilah Benkirane’s government faces a major challenge to refer the maximum number of cases to the courts in order to fight corruption effectively and restore public confidence.

Some members of the public fail to see the report as particularly relevant.

Given that reports from the court of audit do not lead to sanctions against offenders in the absence of any real follow-up mechanism, the observations made will have no impact on how public money is spent, said economics student Ilham Menouri.

Administrator Samir Chami had a similar view. He hoped that this time the government would follow through on the report, both to remedy purely administrative failings and to get the courts involved in cases where that prove necessary.

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