The head of Morocco’s leading statistical institution is complaining about ministers’ lack of cooperation in sharing data as well as the tendency to sugarcoat poor performances.
Rabat – Ahmed Lahlimi Alami, the president of Morocco’s High Commission for Planning (HCP), has decried the lack of cooperation of a number of Moroccan ministers and other high-ranking public administration officials, condemning their unwillingness to share data on their respective departments’ performances.
As the main provider of economic, demographic, and statistical data on Morocco, HCP prides itself on its independence and the fact all departments of Morocco’s public administration have the obligation to share their data with the institution.
In statements reported by Moroccan newspaper Assabah on December 2, Alami lambasted a number of high-ranking public officials for “refusing to share information they have at their disposal” for a study HCP did recently.
“This is completely unacceptable behavior, especially coming from government and administrative officials,” complained the HCP president.
Among the reported non-cooperative officials is Moulay Hafid Elalamy, Morocco’s minister for trade, industry, and new technologies. Elalamy’s ministry reportedly refused to share data on a report that a department at the ministry had done.
In his tirade against allegedly uncooperative government officials, the HCP president is also said to have warned against mis-using or misquoting HCP studies or statistics.
Alami was referring to recent instances when there was notable discrepancy between HCP’s statistical data on Morocco’s economic performance and the interpretation some public officials made of the figures.
In most cases, when HCP’s figures showed a grim picture of a given sector, government interpretation would paint a much more encouraging, half decent picture of the same sector.
One recent example involved what some observers called a “battle of figures” between HCP and the trade and investment ministry. In that particular case, HCP’s data on employment in Morocco, which offered a grim reading of the Moroccan labor market, was the exact opposite of the government’s “lofty” figures and its insistence on delivering a target number of employments HCP rightly predicted it could not attain.
Alami argued that such practices—both withholding information from HCP and misquoting its data—would be “contrary to the royal will,” with King Mohammed VI having made it consistently clear that all government departments should cooperate with HCP in its mission of conceiving updated and accurate data on Morocco’s economic and political trajectories.
Meanwhile, there have also been instances in recent months when HCP’s figures clashed with those of other respectable Moroccan and international institutions, including Morocco’s central bank (Bank Al-Maghrib), the Moroccan Ministry of Finance and Economy, the IMF, and the World Bank.
In HCP’s defense, Lahlimi said that institutions like the IMF and the World Bank make “approximative predictions” on Morocco since their database is not regularly updated, whereas HCP’s data is “constantly updated” and therefore “more accurate” and reflective of Morocco’s progress.