26 December 2012

Morocco: Benkirane Govt Faces Scrutiny

Rabat — The performance of the Abdelilah Benkirane administration has drawn mixed reviews from the Moroccan public.

Some citizens expressed disappointment that the Party of Justice and Development (PJD) did not implement concrete social welfare measures with tangible impact on the public.

"The PJD used to criticise the government's employment strategy," said Salima Cherouani, a young business management graduate who has been unsuccessfully looking for a job for three years. "Now the party is in power, but it hasn't changed this strategy. And young people like me are still unemployed."

"The most unpopular measure this year was the increase in fuel prices, which was unexpected and had a negative impact on several sectors, including transport fares and the prices of fruit and vegetables," said Karim Bekkali a 28-year-old employee. Bekkali, who voted for the PJD in the 2011 elections, believes that "this government is a disappointment".

Soundouss Cherrati, an executive assistant, disagreed "the government needs to be given enough time as it is nearly impossible to undertake major measures within one year."

She welcomed the decisions taken on transparency, such as the publication of the lists of transport and sand quarry operator permits and the ban on holding jobs in both the public and private sectors.

"The government doesn't have a magic wand. You've got to be patient," she added.

Political Analyst Samir Chatiri recognises that the government cannot turn around the situation overnight. The government "must speed up reforms in all areas, especially legislative reforms", he stated.

"Only one organic law has been passed, whereas the Constitution makes provision for 18 organic laws to be voted on by the end of the current legislative term," Chatiri added. "The government must also work on the image of the ruling coalition, which appears in the eyes of the public to be fragmented and incapable of implementing the desired reforms."

Istiqlal Party General-Secretary Hamid Chabat lambasted the government's record. He said that the government, of which his party is the PJD's main ally, was working too slowly.

"It is time to get to grips with the ever-worsening problems affecting society," Chabat added.

Economist Mehdi Bouzaydi noted that the government opted for continuity as far as the economy is concerned. However, the economic model that has been in place for years has demonstrated its limitations, he added.

"There is an urgent need to adopt a new policy to re-launch the economy and boost employment," he stated.

Meanwhile, opposition MPs are taking every opportunity to point out that the government has made no progress in dealing with the repercussions from the economic crisis.

Party of Authenticity and Modernity MP Younes Skouri has criticised the government for taking a populist tone without also adopting a participatory approach in finding solutions to the most complex problems.

Larbi Habchi, an MP and trade unionist from the Democratic Labour Federation, said that 2012 has been a wasted year as far as social issues are concerned.

"Contrary to the grand-sounding slogans that were chanted during the legislative elections in November 2011, especially by the PJD, the government has opted for continuity and measures that hurt the middle class," Habchi said.

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