Moroccan king calls for reform of civil service

Sunday 23/10/2016
Moroccan King Mohammed VI

CASABLANCA - Moroccan King Mo­hammed VI called for the reform of public administration in an address at the open­ing of the autumn session of the new parliament, a week after the legislative elections.

“True commitment to political and party principles means one should put the citizen above all other considerations. It means one should fulfill the promises made to the citizen and show dedication in serving him or her, making those promises prevail over any party or personal interests,” the king said.

King Mohammed VI criticised state agencies for creating obsta­cles to ensuring citizens’ rights and dealing with their concerns in a bu­reaucracy that has been plagued by corruption and incompetence.

“When dealing with state agen­cies, citizens face a wide range of difficulties, be it in terms of recep­tion, communication or the pro­cessing of files and documents, so much so that in the citizen’s mind, this has come to resemble an obsta­cle course,” he said.

The king urged administrative and judicial institutions to properly implement the family law to over­come social problems.

He called for e-government capa­bilities to be made available to facil­itate Moroccans’ access to services without having to go to state agen­cies and interact with staff mem­bers, which is “the main reason for the prevalence of corruption and abuse of power”.

Corruption in Morocco’s pub­lic administration is often cited in the reports of international insti­tutions. A survey by non-govern­mental agency Transparency Maroc indicated that about half of Moroc­cans asked said they paid a bribe in 2015, mainly in the areas of justice, gendarmerie and police.

Corruption in Morocco worsened under the Islamist-led government, which had stated the fight against graft was one of its top priorities. The North African country’s rank­ing fell from 80th place in 2014 to 88th in 2015, according to Trans­parency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of 175 coun­tries published in January 2016.

In June 2015, the Justice Minis­try launched a hotline, website and mobile application for citizens to report corruption.

“Corruption in state agencies is a cancer that is really hard to get rid of in Morocco. Despite its expo­sure by the media and on videos on social networks, the government has failed to bring the culprits to justice,” said Nasser Delimi, a con­struction firm owner.

US-Moroccan citizen Khalid Choukri said civil servants can be obstructive “in order to get some­thing out of you” when “they know you are in short period of time in Morocco to sort out documents”.

The Moroccan government ap­proved a plan in the beginning of the year to fight corruption, allo­cating $19.7 million each year until 2025 in the effort.

Morocco is making progress in the e-government sector but lags behind some countries in the Mid­dle East and North Africa (MENA). Red tape is still rife, as evidenced by the country’s ranking in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2016 report. Morocco was ranked sixth in MENA and 75th in the world for ease of doing business.

“Administrative reform requires a change of attitudes and mindset as well as quality laws in order to have effective state agencies that serve the citizens,” King Mohammed VI said, urging administrators and new parliamentarians to put the citizen at the centre of their work.