By Loubna Flah
By Loubna Flah
Morocco World News
Casablanca, July 24, 2012
The head of government, Abdlilah Benkirane sent a correspondence to the government ministers regarding the adoption of strict austerity measures in the drafting of the 2013 finance bill.
Benkirane urges the executive to consider seriously the possibility of cutting down public spending in different ministerial sectors. The head of government addressed also the presidents of public institutions, including the parliament and the house of counselors.
According to the Moroccan daily Al Massae, the members of the legislative were affronted by Benkirane address. They consider it as a “flagrant interference” in the legislative decisions which undermines considerably the separation of power stipulated in the new constitution.
Mr. Benkirane called the public institutions to take into account the current economic conjecture marked with instability and slow growth.
The heads of legislative houses, the parliament and the house of counselors expressed their annoyance at the head of government’s request. They argue that the legislative body is allotted a meager budget in comparison with other sectors. They also insist that the separation of powers should be enforced at the prerogatives and the financial levels equally.
Mr. Benkirane’s emphasis on austerity foreshadows the government’s intention to put forward more cuts on public spending, including education and health, which remain the most ailing and precarious sectors.
It is noteworthy that the decision to raise fuel prices announced earlier by Benkirane has raised consternation among the opposition, as well as the public opinion especially the middle class and transport professionals who felt targeted by the decision.
The current government predicted that the rise in fuel prices would have a positive effect on the state budget. The High Commission for Planning had predicted that this measure is liable to improve the trade balance by a 0.81 percentage point of GDP in 2013-2014 and 0.59 in 2015.
Nevertheless, the fluctuation of world oil prices in international markets calls into question the government’s decision to raise fuel prices. Mr. Benkirane has also ruled out the possibility of imposing any taxation on wealthy people. He argues that such tax won’t have any noticeable effect on the national economy.
While many European economies are melting down, two opposing approaches are center to the economic debate either stimulating growth or imposing austerity measures, which means cutting back on government spending.
Mr. Benkirane seems to have chosen the austerity side. The question remains now whether the Moroccan citizen, already burdened by inflation, can tolerate the reduction in the public services provided and the increase in taxes.