Casablanca — Despite a difficult global economic situation, Morocco's draft 2014 Finance Act is intended to address youth joblessness. Debate on the bill begins Wednesday (October 23rd).
"The overall aim of the draft 2014 budget is to promote employment and bolster social cohesion while pressing ahead with large-scale structural reforms," Economy and Finance Minister Mohamed Boussaid said October 16th.
He added that for next year, the government expects GDP to grow by 4.2 per cent and the budget deficit to fall by 4.9 per cent.
A budget of 49 billion dirhams (4.36 billion euros) has been set aside to encourage investment, enterprise and the creation of employment mechanisms.
The draft budget also makes provision for 18,000 new government jobs, making for a wage bill of 103 billion dirhams (9.16 billion euros) - an increase of nearly 440 million euros compared with 2013.
"Despite the increase of six billion dirhams (530 million euros) in the wage bill, this measure is strategically important for social cohesion even if the World Bank keeps on warning Morocco about the importance of bringing down its public sector wage bill," economist El Houssine Bendriss told Magharebia.
Ali Boulal, a financial analyst, said that a first glance at the proposed law reveals that these goals are indeed ambitious. "But achieving them will be a big challenge given the difficulties of the economic context, which continues to affect Morocco's main economic partners," Boulal explained.
Morad Louizi, from the youth wing of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP), said that the biggest problem with the Benkirane government was "that it makes a lot of promises to young people who are seeking jobs, but the results on the ground are unconvincing and disappointing in most cases".
The draft 2014 Finance Act also expands the tax base. The bill incorporates agriculture into the system by taxing the revenues of large farms, and exempts small and medium-sized farms.
On the social front, Communications Minister Mustapha El Khalfi said that the government was continuing to pay special attention to civil cohesion.
"The draft 2014 Finance Act proposes a raft of measures to facilitate access to healthcare services, develop housing guarantee mechanisms and roll out health coverage and support school enrolment and teaching quality," he said.
Contrary to what happened during the previous years of the Benkirane government, the draft 2014 Finance Act was submitted on time.
Hamid Molih, a young IT technician who is completing an internship with a media company in Casablanca, said that the measures announced by the government in the draft legislation were important for the creation of jobs for young people.
"It's clear that the government wants to create jobs, but that's not enough, because it needs to follow through and invest a lot more in sectors that generate employment opportunities, such as new information technologies, offshoring, aviation and the automotive industry," Molih said.
Abdelouheb Moukit, who just graduated from a hotel school in Marrakech, wants the government to develop the tourism sector to attract more visitors: "I hope that the budget allocated to tourism for 2014 will re-launch this sector, which is among the biggest creators of jobs for young people in Morocco."