Moroccan king seeks new development model, points out inadequacies

Mohammed VI spoke on the 20th anniversary of his accession to the throne.
Saturday 03/08/2019
Looking ahead. Morocco’s King Mohammed VI delivers a speech marking the anniversary of his accession to the throne in Tetouan, July 29. (AFP)
Looking ahead. Morocco’s King Mohammed VI delivers a speech marking the anniversary of his accession to the throne in Tetouan, July 29. (AFP)

CASABLANCA - A major cabinet reshuffle is expected following Moroccan King Mohammed VI’s call for new faces in political, economic and administrative institutions, including the government, as he expressed dissatisfaction with the country’s current development model.

“I ask the head of government to submit to me, after the summer break, proposals to fill executive posts in the government and the civil service with high-level national elites chosen on merit and competence,” King Mohammed VI said in a televised speech July 29 marking his 20 years on the throne.

King Mohammed VI called for a new plan that would ease social inequalities in Morocco.

“In recent years, our development model has proven to be inadequate in terms of helping us meet the growing needs of a segment of the population, reduce social inequalities and tackle regional disparities,” he said.

Moroccan Central Bank Governor Abdellatif Jouahri had pointed out, before the king’s speech, that “the performance of the Moroccan economy is not enough to meet the increasing social aspirations.”

King Mohammed VI set up an ad hoc committee for the new development model, which is to be unveiled in the autumn. The committee is expected to suggest reforms in several sectors, including education and health care.

Morocco has made major leaps in several sectors that have diversified the country’s economy in the last two decades. The construction of Tanger Med Port, a high-speed rail line linking Tangier and Casablanca and energy plants are among Morocco’s achievements under the king’s rule.

Improvement of infrastructure has been at the forefront of his priorities and 1,600km of roadways have been built.

“What has been achieved in the last 20 years has been great but a lot of work needs to be done to boost the economy in both eastern and southern regions by improving their infrastructure and linking them with the western and northern regions,” said Rachid Aourraz, an economist at the Moroccan Institute for Policy Analysis.

Morocco seeks to obtain 52% of its electricity from clean energy, such as wind and solar, by 2030, up from 28% today.

King Mohammed VI said Morocco needed more openness to lure foreign investment and benefit from foreign expertise. He noted that “the constraints imposed by some national laws and the fear and hesitation characterising the mindset of certain officials sometimes isolate Morocco or lead to damaging indecision.”

Unlike his father King Hassan II, whose foreign policy was based on ties to Europe and particularly France, King Mohammed VI, 55, has opted for Africa to boost Morocco’s political and economic interests.

Morocco reintegrated with the African Union in 2017 after a 33 year absence. Rabat was a founding member of the Organisation of African Unity but, after the group recognised the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic — known as Western Sa­hara — and Algeria backed it for a seat in the African Union, Morocco withdrew from the bloc in 1984.

Morocco has largely been spared the unrest that gripped North Africa and the Middle East since the “Arab spring” uprisings of 2011. However, the country has seen large-scale protests in the last three years across the country, especially in the Rif, demanding social and economic reforms to improve people’s standard of living.

King Mohammed VI ceded some power to an elected government after the country’s 2011 constitutional reform, which saw Islamists rise to power in Morocco for the first time.