Rabat – As part of Morocco’s ongoing efforts to control corruption in both the government and the private sector, last week, the Moroccan House of Representatives adopted a bill to strengthen the National Council on Probity, Prevention and Fight against Corruption (INPPLC).
The prevalence of corruption in Morocco is a well-known fact, to both residents and visitors alike. In the Corruption Perceptions Index 2020, Morocco was ranked 86th out of 180 countries worldwide. Morocco was tied with India, Burkina Faso, Trinidad and Tobago, and Timor-Leste.
While Morocco’s intensified efforts to battle corruption have had a very little measurable effect on the general population so far, it does not mean they have been fruitless. The string of arrests of public officials for alleged corruption in recent years serves as the important first step of gaining public trust and establishing a precedent.
The newly adopted bill will take the next, much-needed, steps to strengthen the INPPLC and further limit corruption in the North African country. Two points, in particular, will allow the fight against corruption to yield results.
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First, the bill has now broadened the definition of corruption to include all acts which could constitute administrative and financial violations. The second point further broadens the definition of corruption, to include offenses relating to criminal legislation, various conflicts of interest, the activity of administrative and public bodies, as well as the misuse of public funds, as defined in article 36 of the Constitution.
The new bill also empowers the INPPLC to carry out investigations and to prepare reports on cases of corruption, which will then be sent to the authorities to ensure the appropriate disciplinary or criminal proceedings. Furthermore, the INPPLC will work closely with the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which, as of Monday, is headed by Moulay El Hassan Daki.
When the bill was introduced, it stirred controversy in the parliament. Parliamentarians and jurists criticized the power of the anti-corruption council, going as far as to block the bill.
On that occasion, Moroccan critics slammed the MPs for their perceived greed and self-entitlement, arguing that most of them are only interested in financial self-advancement and care little for the public good or the fate of their poor constituents.