Strengthening local administrations would help Morocco achieve its vision for advanced regionalization.
Rabat – The French Development Agency (AFD) and Morocco have signed a loan agreement of €100 million dedicated to supporting the country’s program to improve the performance of municipalities.
The program, spanning 2019 to 2024, aims to increase the resilience of municipalities amid the COVID-19 crisis and strengthen their capacity to support economic recovery and local development, as well as guarantee the continuity of local public services.
The plan also hopes to improve the role of local administrations in providing public services, strengthen the administrations’ governance, and build a strong relationship between local public institutions and citizens.
The program covers 103 municipalities. The participating administrative territories include nearly 85% of Morocco’s urban population and 55% of the country’s total population.
The new loan adds up to an earlier loan agreement of €272 million signed between Morocco and the World Bank in the context of the same program.
The new budget is set to give Morocco’s local municipalities the capacity to make investments. However, the investment budget allocated for each municipality “will depend on the results achieved by the municipalities as part of an annual evaluation of their performance, conducted by the Ministry of Interior,” said a press release from AFD.
In addition to financial support, the program also offers adapted technical assistance and training services for local administrations and their staff.
“In this context, AFD has granted, in addition to the loan, a subsidy of €500,000 to support municipalities in the creation and implementation of internal audit units,” the press release added.
According to AFD, internal audits are a key management tool to improve the risk management skills of local authorities.
Another objective of the program is to improve inter-municipal cooperation in order to boost the efficiency of certain public services, such as public transport and waste collection.
“The objectives of this program to improve the services provided by municipalities are even more relevant in this context of health crisis–a context that will see Moroccan municipalities meet the double challenge of regressing resources and increasing citizens’ expectations and charges,” said Khalid Safir, director-general of local municipalities at the Ministry of Interior.
“The municipalities must indeed redouble their efforts to ensure the continuity of basic public services by improving their quality, while dealing with the new expenses generated by this pandemic,” he added.
Meanwhile, the director of AFD in Morocco, Mihoub Mezouaghi, estimated that the financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis will be high for local administrations.
“It is therefore essential to strengthen their resilience. This program must … improve the human and financial resources of municipalities, strengthen their capacities for project and financial management, and improve their transparency and efficiency,” he said.