Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Morocco To Buck The Trend In Global Downturn?

Morocco’s economy is in good shape despite soaring oil prices and international financial instability, Economy and Finance Minister Salaheddine Mezouar told business leaders July 22nd in Casablanca.

Addressing a meeting of the General Confederation of Moroccan Businesses (CGEM), Mezouar supported his contention that the economy is thriving by noting the 6% year-on-year non-agricultural growth rate since 2001, the drop in unemployment from 14% to 10% and an overall increase in investment.

"These macroeconomic developments attest to the national economy's resilience [and an] effective economic and financial policy realised through reforms, major projects and sectoral policies," Mezouar affirmed.

The minister was equally optimistic about the future outlook. Inflation will be kept below 2%, overall economic growth will be 6.8% as forecast in the budget, and the continued process of expanding the tax base and controlling government spending will maintain the budget deficit at a level not exceeding 3% of GDP, he assured CGEM members.

Mezouar also called on the private sector to become involved in the growth process.

"What the government wants to do is involve employers in all economic plans as they are finalised. This democratic approach is aimed at ensuring that businesses commit themselves unequivocally to playing their part."

"With lower VAT and duties on imported goods, entrepreneurs have an ethical and civic duty to take advantage of subsidies and lower taxes by channelling this extra money into recapitalisation and business growth," he added.

All regions of the country are seeing unprecedented growth, said Mustapha Bakoury, chief executive of government investment body Caisse de Dépôt et de Gestion. He also noted that while Morocco’s economy already has a good reputation, even more can be achieved.

"I think we can do even better, provided that all economic, government and social players move towards a future based on fair distribution of wealth," Bakoury maintained. "We’ve already begun reaping the rewards of this."

Employers have welcomed the success of the partnership between the public and private sectors. Speaking at Tuesday's meeting, CGEM president said the organisation is willing to play its part in encouraging economic players to invest more heavily in sectors driving socio-economic development.

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