Rabat — Moroccans on October 20th will get their first look at the 2014 Finance Act.
According to the draft budget's "concept note", the objective is to promote investment and enterprise, fix the deficit and achieve robust growth for the benefit of local populations.
Minister delegate in charge of the budget, Driss Azami has already begun laying the groundwork for the new financial plan. In response to concerns about some negative economic indicators, he moved to reassure MPs.
Agricultural outputs exceeded forecasts, tourism revenues and remittances from MREs grew, and foreign direct investment improved 22% over last year in the first eight months of 2013, the minister noted last month.
Yet even as Morocco created some 144,000 new jobs, the unemployment rate rose from 8.1 % to 8.8%. The situation is worst for those under age 34 (20.2%) and graduates (17.9%).
The budget minister conceded that declining tax revenues had prompted the new Morocco fuel index policy.
The hike in fuel prices that followed the move has been criticised by citizens and lawmakers alike.
According to young opposition deputy Younes Skouri, the petrol price increase was among "several measures that have been taken in secret by the head of government".
"This indicates a crisis in public finances. This decision was taken while people were on leave by a government that does not have the support of the majority," he said.
The budget minister's analysis of the first months of 2013 did not reflect the situation today, he added.
And household finances are feeling the strain. "Soaring food prices have affected the purchasing power of citizens," 28-year-old executive assistant Hiba Rmiki complained.
One sector showing strong performance is that of agriculture.
"This year has been productive for seasonal workers," agricultural employee Hayat Terrache said "My husband and I got jobs harvesting fruits and vegetables. We felt the change from the previous year."
But economists caution that agriculture alone is not enough to change the situation on the street.
"This year, the agricultural season has boosted the economy, but we must now think of other ways to promote investment and improve employment, especially among young people," economist Mehdi Sefdi noted.
"The government must keep the growth rate high by taking measures that improve investment," he told Magharebia. "This is how we can create more jobs and meet the demands of young people who arrive en masse on the labour market," he said.
Reducing the jobless rate must indeed be a consideration in the new budget, experts warn.
"The government must double its efforts to get young people out of the unstable situation they are in," sociologist Hakima El Mardi said.
"Improving the economic situation of young people will prevent the risk of extremism," she added.