Rabat – The latest World Bank (WB) report on the Moroccan economy in 2017 is still a source of unrest for the Moroccan government. After being rejected by a large part of the government, the document is sparking the indignation of the Moroccan economists.
The WB’s report’s conclusions on the health of the Moroccan economy were very severe. According to the bank, the economic model of the kingdom is at a crucial point. Morocco has not made enough progress to converge its economic growth with advanced countries in the coming decades.
The 300-page document providing a detailed diagnosis of the economic and social performance of Morocco over the last decades was vigorously debated during a round table organized by the Center of Reflection Aziz Belal (CERAB) and the Association of Economists of Morocco (AEM) last weekend, reports the newspaper L’Economiste.
The report was a very difficult pill to swallow for the members of CERAB and the AEM, who deemed it necessary to voice their response with a counter-report criticizing the work of the WB to help authorities understand the situation more clearly. Some economists even denounced what they believed to be “the emptiness at the root of the situation that prompted the experts of the World Bank to play the role of commentators instead of taking the initiative,” writes L’Economiste.
While some of the present experts explained that the report can not be questioned, they believe, however, that “the World Bank’s assumptions are wrong, do not reflect reality and its recommendations are biased.”
However, L’Economiste has tempered the ardor of critics of the WB’s report by reminding them that even political parties have evoked the weakness of the Moroccan economic model without making any corrections. To this objection, the circle of economists replied that “we must be the locomotives of ideas and not comment on what others write.”
Since its publication on May 15, the report sparked great controversy. Lahcen Daoudi, Minister of General Affairs stated during the presentation of the report that the government was having difficulty accepting the conclusions of the World Bank.
“We can agree on many things but relativize others. The report was drawn up according to the vision of the World Bank and it can not have the support of Morocco, especially on the political side. We want the World Bank to distance itself from certain discourses,” the minister said.
In the regional context, the Moroccan economy has shown resilience, with more vigorous growth than elsewhere. However, the World Bank stated that considering its efforts to invite investment, the Kingdom is poorly rewarded. In addition, the job content of growth has deteriorated, which results in a high unemployment rate of around 9 percent, with an alarming level among young people.
The World Bank’s accelerated economic convergence scenario assumes an increase in total factor productivity of 2 percent per annum and an increase in the employment rate of the working-age population to 55 percent by 2040 compared to 45 percent in 2015. The cumulative effect of increases in productivity and employment would lead to a stronger and sustained trend growth of at least 4.5 percent per year until 2040.
This challenge is certainly big, but is achievable, according to the report, by enacting a profound structural transformation of the economy and substantial efficiency gains. The report called on Morocco to make greater efforts to accumulate more intangible capital. The global institution advocates the reorientation of public policies towards the development of intangible capital, including human capital.
In this context, the bank stressed that any progress would be futile without educational reform. “An educational miracle” is paramount. The backlog accumulated by Morocco in this sector is so enormous that it would take about thirty years to match the level of learning currently observed in emerging countries such as Turkey.