6 November 2012

Morocco Faces Criticism Over Anti-Corruption Efforts

Rabat — A government watchdog in Morocco reports little progress in the fight against corruption in the kingdom.

Morocco's Central Authority for the Prevention of Corruption (ICPC) delivered its annual report to Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane last week, criticising the pace of progress in tackling graft.

The 2010-2011 report, released to the public on Friday (November 2nd), stated that the situation in Morocco has not improved significantly and the government's policy still lacked a strategic dimension and an effective commitment to tackling corruption.

The ICPC also highlighted the lack of co-ordination between the various bodies in charge of inspections, monitoring and accountability due to the absence of close institutional ties between them, a lack of co-operation and sharing of expertise and information, and legal loopholes which are hampering efforts to curb corruption.

The authority has called for a genuine and serious commitment to tackling corruption, monopolies, privileged and dominant positions before embezzled funds can be recovered and public resources can be protected.

Since the current government took office, the prime minister and his cabinet team representing the Party of Justice and Development (PJD) have trumpeted their desire to tackle the issue.

The opposition has taken the government to task over its failure to act. Hakim Benchemmas, the parliamentary leader of the Party of Authenticity and Modernity in the Chamber of Councillors, has said that the government's pledges and words about this subject have not translated into anything concrete.

Civil society has also raised the alarm. Transparency Maroc has drawn attention to shortcomings in the law. It has said that the Law on the Protection of Witnesses and Whistle-Blowers falls short of expectations and that the identities of witnesses should be omitted from statements. It also claims that existing measures to guarantee the safety of witnesses and whistle-blowers are inadequate.

"If, for example, someone becomes aware of a corrupt act within their institution and reports it, they risk losing their job on the grounds of breach of professional secrecy," Michele Zirari, the deputy secretary-general of Transparency Maroc, said October 30th.

The government has also stressed the great importance of tackling corruption. Driss Azami El Idrissi, the minister delegate responsible for the budget, said on October 30th that the government was making the fight against corruption a priority and underlined that all stakeholders must pool their efforts to overcome the problem.

The official also said that the government's strategy on curbing corruption must be backed up by a strong legal and institutional framework with wide-ranging and comprehensive judicial reform, a new charter for good governance of public institutions and an overhaul of public procurement.

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