Rabat - After the Lamia Boutaleb, the Minister Delegate of Tourism, denied accusations that she favored a fellow party member for a sizeable national contract, a member of the ministry has contradicted her claims.
Rabat – After the Lamia Boutaleb, the Minister Delegate of Tourism, denied accusations that she favored a fellow party member for a sizeable national contract, a member of the ministry has contradicted her claims.
On August 31, Africa Intelligence published the news that the consultancy firm Southbridge A&l, owned by Moroccan businessman and National Rally of Independents (RNI) member Hassan Belkhayat, had received a contract to revise the kingdom’s Vision 2020 tourism plan, awarded by RNI colleague Boutaleb, Minister Delegate in Charge of Tourism.
Boutaleb quickly rejected the claim, saying that the contract had not yet been assigned, as the ministry was still reviewing the candidates.
However, in an e-mail sent by Abdellah Benmansour, the director of Boutaleb’s cabinet, to Africa Intelligence, he acknowledged that a deal had indeed been concluded with Southbridge A&l, just not technically about the Vision 2020 plan.
“We would like to make it clear that the work with Southbridge A&l has just started, but it is not about reviewing the Vision 2020 plan but rather boosting tourism in Morocco in the framework of this Vision,” wrote Benmansour.
The statement appears to go against Boutaleb’s previous statement.
“No contract has been signed with any company,” she said on September 5, elaborating that the ministry had simply held discussions with different consulting firms in order to boost the tourism sector.
After the news broke out, reports by Moroccan media claimed that contract totaled MAD 13 million, almost double what the Ministry of Tourism previously paid the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) for a similar project.
Belkhayat, a relative of former minister of youth and Sports Moncef Belkhayat, entered politics only recently when joined the RNI. In May, both he and Boutaleb were elected as members of RNI’s political bureau.
Southbridge A&l was founded almost at the same time as Belkhayat began his political career.
Boutaleb is also a political newcomer, previously a successful banker before she made her entrance to the government as she joined the RNI.