CASABLANCA, Morocco, Dec 07, 2012 (AFP) -
CASABLANCA, Morocco, Dec 07, 2012 (AFP) –
Transparency Morocco on Friday accused the government of failing to achieve any major progress in its battle against corruption, despite the ruling Islamist party promising to do so on coming to power.
Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane’s Party of Justice and Development (PJD) won parliamentary elections in November 2011 pledging to tackle endemic corruption in Morocco, and insists it has made progress in doing so.
But in its annual Corruption Perceptions Index for 2012, which came out on Wednesday, Berlin-based watchdog Transparency International dropped the north African kingdom eight places, to 88, out of 176 countries rated.
The Moroccan branch of TI also charged, in its open letter to Benkirane, a copy of which was seen by AFP, that the government’s declarations and limited measures were the “best ally” of corruption, which it described as “systematic”.
“Your government has not made any major progress in the desired direction, and it has not even presented … its goals in the short or long term in the fight against this scourge that threatens our social cohesion and economic efficiency,” the letter said.
The NGO said the government must take “concrete steps” to end the impunity of officials, to “activate” the judiciary and inspectors appointed to scrutinise public administration, and introduce laws to protect whistleblowers.
Government officials were not immediately available to respond to the NGO’s claims.
But PJD officials say strides have been taken in the battle against graft, including mechanisms set up to scrutinise accounts and prosecute offenders, and lists published of those benefiting from privilege, through the awarding of contracts.
Abdesselam Aboudrar, the head of public anti-corruption body the ICPC, announced on state television earlier this week that a law extending the agency’s prerogatives would be passed next year.
But Transparency Morocco’s Sion Assidon expressed doubt. “People are speaking about two years more under the old law, which doesn’t give any real power to this agency to act,” he told AFP, while describing the PJD’s initiatives to roll back corruption as “symbolic”.
“What they have done until now is very symbolic, about the list they have published, but it’s not the way to get out of the rentier economy, and its not the way to get out of systematic corruption.”
The NGO also highlighted, as an example of the need to protect whistleblowers, the case of two finance ministry employees currently on trial for “divulging professional secrets”.
Abdelmajid Louiz and Mohamed Reda were charged after leaking documents to the press in June indicating that ex-finance minister Salaheddine Mezouar and the head of the treasury Noureddine Bensouda had awarded each other monthly bonuses of more than 7,000 euros ($9,050).