Moroccan king calls for reform of civil service
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.