Monday, October 18, 2010

Morocco In the News: Oct 11 - 18

Tinghir, Ouarzazate, Morocco: Election results in the Peace Corps.
iReport —
I was serving as a health volunteer in the Peace Corps on the day of the election. I headed into town where a nearby volunteer had a television and was hosting an election party.
Though we couldn't stay up to see the results, at about 5 am, all our cell phones started ringing. "He won!" they said. "Turn on the TV!"
We crowded back into the room, sleepyeyed, and sat fixated on history in the making.
The best part was walking around town the next morning. Everyone there knew I was an American and had become accostomed to me as "the crazy American girl who speaks Tachelheit Berber." People came out of the woodwork to congratulate me, pay my vegetable bill as a way to show their appreciation, offer me free tea and pieces of cake, and offer up the quip that "Barak L'hou!" had won (L'hou is a Berberized nickname for "Hussein.").
My favorite was when Aziz, one of the friendly shopkeepers turned to me.
"We won!" he said.
"Yeah, he won! I can't believe it!"
"No, I didn't say 'he won,' I said 'we won!'"
The thankfulness, happiness, and excitement in everyone's eyes that day made me, for the first time since I had stepped foot in Morocco, PROUD to be an American.
Nursery and child care projects Morocco. 
Orphans volunteer opportunities in Morocco Nursery child care in Morocco
PRLog (Press Release) – Oct 15, 2010 – Volunteer Care work with children in Morocco Placement on one of our volunteer Care projects in Morocco can be challenging, but the effort will also prove incredibly rewarding. Volunteers help to improve the quality of life for the children in a variety of homes, centres for disadvantaged children and disabled centres, where staff simply don't have time to provide the individual care and attention that the children require.You can gain work experience on a volunteer Care project in Morocco whatever your age, abilities or level of experience; whether you are on a gap year - or even a gap month - from further education, or are coming to us during a career break. All we ask is that you have enthusiasm for and a commitment to the work, the staff team and, of course, the children!All volunteers on a Care Project in Morocco would be helpful to speak some basic French in order to communicate directly with the children and the local staff.

There is a great deal you can do to contribute to the general care and support of the children. The work depends a lot on the ages of the children you are working with. Volunteering may involve assisting with the day-to-day practical care of the children; ensuring they get up on time and preparing their meals, as well as playing games, organising activities and trips, and offering the children the vital one-to-one attention which they crave. You may even find yourself assisting with ‘zoo therapy’ where disabled children have the chance to interact with and feed animals like rabbits and lambs. Or you may join a fun play scheme to teach the children circus skills!

The older children often require help with homework, support with developing social and life skills and you may also find yourself teaching some basic English lessons.

More information available at our website:
Issued By:Morocco travel Tours
Phone:+212 670962757
Address:JCM BP 775 Gueliz Principal 40000
Morocco pays tribute to women. By Naoufel Cherkaoui Rabat - 15/10/10
A Moroccan organisation lionised a number of women in an annual festival held as part of celebrations for the country's National Woman's Day.
The Moltaka B'ladi Association for Citizenship honoured seven Moroccan women on Friday (October 8th) as part of the Maghribiyates Festival, which was held to mark National Woman's Day. The honoured women come from different fields, including politics, administration, media and art.
"The National Festival for Moroccan Women, which we are celebrating its third round, came after the launch of the National Woman's Day," Yassine Errikh, President of Moltaka B'ladi Citizenship Association, told Magharebia.
"In our association, we were of the opinion that we should not let this occasion just pass by. Therefore, we decided to organise an event that matches the importance of the occasion. Through this festival, we're trying to celebrate women energies and to express our appreciation of different women's achievements," Errikh added.
In 2008, Morocco set October 10th as National Woman's Day. It was an occasion to launch the Family Law in its new form, which was received with great relief, especially among women.
"I'm a woman who works in the shadow. However, today I'm standing here in the forefront next to six distinguished women. The status of women has witnessed a major change in recent years. Moroccan women are working hard, and tomorrow will be better," said Khadija Sansar, a media relations advisor at the Ministry for Moroccan Communities Abroad and one of the honourees.
"The thing that makes this day even more important is that it was associated with the launch of the Family Law that worked on the rehabilitation of Moroccan women," said actress Jamila Charik, who was also recognised, adding that she was "very happy with this initiative that comes amid the celebration of the National Woman's Day".
"I'm not completely satisfied with the status of women. The current situation requires us to work to improve the image of women, especially in the Arab media, given that they're not reflecting our real image. We have to intensify our efforts in this direction. Meanwhile, there are women who are distinguished in their work, like the group that is honoured today," Charik added.
"I'm happy, first for celebrating the National Woman's Day, and second because I was honoured," Alia Maa Laaynain, librarian in the Maararif district of Casablanca, told Magharebia. "This puts a responsibility on my shoulders as a representative of Moroccan women who have had an important standing and honourable history."
"It's true that there are problems facing women, and that it always needs research, study and development," she added. "However, we have the right to be proud of Moroccan women as they assume an advanced standing as compared to that of their counterparts in some Arab countries. Celebrating the National Woman's Day is linked to the launch of the Family Law. Therefore, celebrating this day will make us think about what women have achieved through that law, and about the accumulated gains they have realised in all fields."
"We're proud of the women who were honoured. We think that Moroccan women have gained major rights, and that their status has considerably improved," said Rachida, a primary school teacher.
"The condition of Moroccan women is like that of men," said weathercaster Samira Fizazi, who was also commended for her work. "They [i.e. women] continue with their struggles and sacrifices. I think there is no longer room to complain about their condition, as was the case in the past, given the progress that took place in the country and worked to raise their value. In this way, they've reached high levels. Yet the condition of women has not yet been fully consolidated, as there are still some few shortcomings."

This festival is sponsored by the Deparment of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles, and A.C.A.A. ,the Amazigh Cultural Association in America.

It celebrates the rich Amazigh culture of North Africa and the Sahara with
 film, music, and food. "Amazigh" is the original word for the Berber people and means "the free people". Imazighen are found in Egypt, Libya, Morocco,
Algeria, Tunisia , the Sahara Desert, Niger and Mali..

The celebration will commence on Saturday, October 30 at 5 pm at the
 Barnsdall Theatre and Art Gallery. The event will feature two films, Footsteps to Africa: A Nomadic Journey and Asshak: Tales of the Sahara, as well as exhibit Tuareg artwork by painter Leslie Clark and Tuareg jewelry by designer Moussa Albaka of Niger. The second documentary will be
co-hosted by Women in Film International.

You can look forward to musical performances by Fattah Abbou and
 Mohamed Aoualou of the AZA North African band of Santa Cruz and a special guitar solo by Alhassane Fongounou of the Tidawt band of Niger. Rachid Bouksim, Director of the Issi N'Ourgh Film Festival of Agadir, and Dr. Aomar Benslimane, the president of the ACAA, will speak about Amazigh
cinematography. A catered reception will take place on the front patio from
 6:30 to 7 pm.

This year, the Los Angeles Amazigh Film Festival opened at the ARPA Los
 Angeles International Film Festival with a 15 minute montage on Algeria and Morocco created by Helene Hagan , titled "Azul, Imazighen". A second film titled "Amanar, Tamashek" wil be showing at 1pm, at the Bahai Center, on the opening day of the American Indian Movement West International Film Festival in San Francisco, Monday, October 11, 2010. The 12 minute short feature was submitted to L.A.A.F.F. by its producer, Lluis Estin of Spain, and chrnonicles the grievancess of Tuareg people in the region of Arlit,
northern Niger, mined for uranium by the French company AREVA. Both entries
 for the ARPA International Film Festival Francophone participation and the A.I.M. International American Indian Festival are part of the expanding LOS ANGELES AMAZIGH FILM FESTIVAL. which is presently considering additional
San Francisco and New York venues for the future.
WWF commends Morocco's efforts in forest management certification.
Rabat - The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) hailed efforts made by Morocco in forest management certification, on the eve of the 2nd national forum on forest management certification scheduled on Thursday in Rabat.
    In a statement on Wednesday to MAP, the WWF commended the efforts of the Moroccan authorities, NGOs and all actors involved in forest management certification, an approach which seeks to ensure sustainable management of Moroccan forests.
    "We are pleased with the mass mobilization of the High Commissioner for Water, Forests and the Fight against desertification, businesses, NGOs, institutions and researchers for the FSC certification," said the head of the Forest Unit at the WWF's Mediterranean program, quoted by the statement.
    "This is a crucial moment for the future of Moroccan forests and the FSC certification adoption is an additional tool to safeguard, on the long run, Morocco's forest and economic heritage," he said.
    FSC certification is a way of ensuring that careful and long-term forest management is recognized.
National Literacy Day: Significant progress towards the eradication of this phenomenon.
Rabat - Morocco has made undeniable progress in terms of the fight against illiteracy, putting this phenomenon at the forefront of national priorities with the implementation of comprehensive programmes and the establishment of conditions ripe for expanding the circle of beneficiaries.
    The celebration, on Wednesday, of the National Day of Literacy is an opportunity to assess the progress made in this field and emphasize the importance of literacy, a real lever for change, human development and social progress.
    HM King Mohammed VI had launched, in October 2003, a campaign to fight illiteracy dubbed "Massirat Annour" (light march). He also announced the creation of a State Secretariat which is in charge of developing a national strategy for combating and eradicating this scourge.
    On the other hand, the strategy set up by the government in partnership with civil society has enabled the reduction of illiteracy to 30% in 2010, compared to 43% in 2004.
    The number of beneficiaries of literacy programmes has reached over 4.5 million people between 2003 and 2010.
     Under the 2009-2010 year, the beneficiaries of literacy classes reach 702,488 people, according to the Ministry of National Education.
      Complementary programmes have been initiated in collaboration with the Ministry’s partners, targeting women's literacy and their socio-economic integration, such as the “project of fighting illiteracy for women’s independence: strengthening national capacities for sustainable development”, in addition to a project launched, in 2005, by the UNESCO which aims at supporting literacy programmes specifically for women.
   As part of efforts made to give new impetus to the implementation of programmes in this area and the improvement of the human development index in Morocco, a draft law was recently developed to set up a national agency for literacy.
    The agency, whose creation is part of the revitalization of the national strategy to fight illiteracy, will endeavor to promote the national mobilization with the aim to eradicate this scourge by 2015 and scientific research in this area through training.
      An action plan was also adopted for the coming years to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of the national effort to fight this phenomenon. This plan is meant to speed up the pace of achievements and improve the quality of services in accordance with the objectives of the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH), launched by the Sovereign in 2005.
Morocco, UNIFEM sign agremment on Family Code implementation.
Rabat - Morocco and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) signed, Monday in Rabat, an agreement on a programme for supporting the implementation of the Family Code through the facilitation of women's access to justice services.
      Under the accord, the UNIFEM will provide institutional and organizational support to the Moroccan ministries of Justice and Social Development, Family and Solidarity in terms of monitoring and assessing the implementation of the Family Code.
   The three-year programme, to which a budget of $ 1,274,103 was allocated, is part of a global programme which covers four leading countries, including Morocco, that aim to promote governance in terms of women's access to services.
    Mohamed Naciri, Moroccan Justice Minister, said the agreement will open up new prospects for cooperation between the signing parties and ensure the implementation of the necessary mechanisms for the facilitation of women's access to family justice.
    For her part, Nouzha Skalli, Minister of Social Development, Family and Solidarity, underlined that this partnership agreement is a multifold approach to monitoring the implementation of the Family Code.
    She added that the three parties commit, under this agreement, to raise awareness and communicate on the provisions of the Family Code, work towards facilitating the access of citizens to information in the field of family justice and contribute to building capacities of all actors in this field.
    Zineb Touimi Benjelloune, regional director of the UNIFEM Programmes for North Africa, voiced satisfaction with Morocco's experience in the implementation of the Family Code, underscoring that "Morocco's process in terms of reforms and their implementation are designed to improve institutional performance to achieve gender equality."
Achieving MDGs requires active solidarity, official says.
Rabat - Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) requires an active and contextualized solidarity, state Secretary to the Foreign Ministry Latifa Akharbach said on Monday.
    Speaking at the launch of the 8 for 8 Campaign for the achievement of MDGs, Akharbach said the implementation of these objectives depends on a solidarity between the North and South and a social, international and inter-generational solidarity.
    Social mobilization, institutional commitment, operational deployment, a sharing of experiences and provision of relevant informations that are consistent with the realities on the ground are also essential to achieving the MDGs, she added.
     Akharbach also stressed the need for a renewed commitment of the international community and more determination in action in terms of development aid, reform of global governance and research of new innovative financing.
       She highlighted the significant role of the media and opinion leaders in this regard. Communication is a means of intervention because of the great number of messages to be transmitted on issues related to achieving the MDGs in terms of actors, targets, and promotion of the effectiveness of development aid, the official underlined.
       After recalling that in 2000 the world decided to achieve eight development goals that will enable everyone to enjoy the fundamental right to a dignified life, she stressed that Morocco has placed the achievement of MDGs at the top of national priorities, particularly through the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH).
    Morocco, Akharbach said, is endeavoring to develop a major international partnership for achieving the MDGs and bring a real and effective solidarity in this area, particularly in Africa.
Moroccan association receives WHO's Down Syndrome Research prize.
Cairo - The World Health Organisation (WHO) awarded the Down Syndrome Research prize to the Moroccan Association "Anaïs" in recognition of its efforts to integrate Down syndrome children.
    This award was handed to Chairwoman of the Association, Sabah Zemmama Tyal, in recognition of the efforts to provide psycho-pedagogical care for mentally challenged people, and promote their social, scholar and professional integration.
    Tyal, who received the prize on the sidelines of the 57th session of the WHO regional committee, expressed determination to double efforts to ensure better care and integration for People with Down syndrome.
Capturing Morocco in Its Sunny Pickle
Evan Sung for The New York Times/By MARK BITTMAN Published: October 15, 2010
PRESERVED lemons, a staple of Moroccan cooking, are pickles, and terrific ones. Made using the entire lemon — skin and all — they’re cured in their own juices, along with salt and sugar. Like most relishes, the recipe varies from cook to cook, so you might find garlic, shallot, bay leaves, coriander seeds, chili flakes or cinnamon sticks in a given batch.
The word “preserved” here is not a joke; if you make them right, these lemons will keep for a year, like most pickles. But making them right means letting them sit for weeks, and sometimes you want that sweet-and-sour-and-salty flavor without the wait.
Enter the minimalist approach.
These aren’t “preserved” at all, but the flavor is similar — and lovely — and they’re done in three hours. Not bad. Since you’re using the whole lemon, you want to start with unwaxed (even better, organic) fruit. (If they are not organic, they are likely waxed, so blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds, then rub off the wax with a towel.) You then chop the lemons, including the peel, and toss them in a bowl or jar with kosher salt (if you use regular salt, use less) and sugar. The amounts here are my preferred ratio, but tweak as you like to suit your taste.
Give the lemons at least a couple of hours to sit, stirring them or shaking the jar every so often. As with traditionally made preserved lemons, these will get better the longer you let them marinate and will last up to a week, refrigerated. And, as with the traditional version, they complement almost any stew, simply cooked fish or chicken, or nearly anything else you’d put on a plate.
Divorce rates in Morocco plunge 46%. - Ammar Shikhani Tuesday, 12 October 2010
Morocco (Fez) - Divorce rates in Morocco have fallen from 44,922 cases in 2003 to 24,170 in 2009, down 46.2%, Minister of Social Development, Family and Solidarity reported.

According to Nouzha Skalli, this result is one of the first fruits of the implementation of the Family Code, which came into force in 2004.

As to marriage rates, they have gone up by 19.29% from 263,553 to 314,400 over the period under review, the minister said during a meeting on "Family Code: Six Years Later", organized by a number of associations on the occasion of the National Women’s Day.

Skalli noted that the rate of legal divorces increased by 13% over the same period, while the rate of marriages concluded by adult women increased by 20.4%.

She voiced satisfaction with the fact that 40.91% of divorces were concluded by mutual agreement.

However, she pointed to persisting challenges, notably early marriage, stating that about 30,685 minors got married in 2008, compared to 33,253 in 2009.

These numbers "should prompt all of us to take more action in terms of promoting the rights of children (…) and raising awareness among families." (MAP)
Morocco forecasts 5% economic growth rate- Ammar Shikhani   Wednesday, 13 October 2010
Morocco (Rabat) - Morocco's 2011 appropriation bill forecasts a growth rate of 5%, an inflation rate of less than 2% and a budget deficit of 3.5%, Finance Minister said on Tuesday in Rabat.

"We forecast a growth rate of 5%, an improvement of one percentage point compared to 2010, with inflation contained at less than 2% and budget deficit brought down to 3.5," Salaheddine Mezouar told the press before the weekly cabinet meeting.

The minister added that the appropriation bill was prepared in no logic of austerity, as it provides for no reduction in wages and no review of social guidelines.

In spite of the global economic context, the appropriation bill aims at seeing through the development model initiated by HM King Mohammed VI by promoting growth rate, maintaining support for investments, reforms and sectoral policies and preserving the citizens’ purchasing power and macro-economic balances, Mezouar said.

He also pointed out that the bill provides for measures in respect of rural areas and income-generating activities, adding that public investments will be increased.

The cabinet meeting will examine, Tuesday and Wednesday, the 2011 appropriation bill and the relevant texts, following the presentation of the Finance Minister. (MAP)
Morocco promoting agricultural cooperation with Germany.
- Asif Khalifa    Wednesday, 13 October 2010
Morocco (Berlin) - A delegation of representatives of Moroccan agricultural cooperatives are on a visit to Germany to learn from the European country's experience in the agricultural field.

The delegation, which also includes representatives from the Agriculture and fisheries ministry, will hold several meetings with German agricultural and food cooperatives executives and visit cooperatives operating in cattle breeding and milk production.

The visit, which aims at reinforcing bilateral cooperation in the field of agriculture, comes following the agreement signed between the two countries in Meknes on the sidelines of the 2010 International agriculture fair.

The first agricultural cooperative was set up in Germany in 1864. Now the country boasts 2,700 cooperatives which post an annual turnover of 40 billion Euros.

The Moroccan-German cooperation in the agricultural field is steadily growing with the signing recently of a bilateral cooperation agreement on food security. (MAP)
Economic Commission for Africa: Morocco adopts green economy approach. Thursday, 14 October 2010
Addis Ababa - Morocco is among the first African countries to be committed to a "green economy" rich and efficient at the energy level, said the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Morocco's commitment to a "green economy" would open up new prospects particularly in terms of sustainable growth, employment and skills development, said a report released Wednesday on the sidelines of the 7th African Development Forum (ADF VII), held in Addis Ababa.

This new example of green growth that responds to the climate emergency is also an opportunity to come out of the current economic crisis, the same source added, noting that the green economy is an economic system that internalizes the costs of ecosystem degradation forming the basis of economic and social development.

“In Morocco, the development of ecotourism is already perceived as a real opportunity to improve the growth of a key sector of the economy thanks to the integration of renewable energy and energy efficiency,” the ECA noted, indicating that Morocco’s new project “Green City” is “a great initiative.”

The Commission also hailed the political, institutional and financial reforms undertaken in recent years by the kingdom to promote the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency.(MAP)
Friday, 08 October 2010
New York / Morocco Board News Service - Morocco succeeded in levying some fresh money  on the international capital markets at good conditions. So that’s € 1.Bn at 4.563% interest to be paid over 10 years at our disposal; Let us just hope it would be put to good news. It is, in all fairness, a good deal. the fixed income market is still quite volatile due to lagging credit crunch effects, especially on the long-term rates. It is a good deal, provided the money is wisely put to use to create stream of currency cash flows as well as wealth and output expansion at once. Otherwise, it will be difficult.
The international capital markets. The ministry targeted a $ 500Mn levy, but retracted forthwith two months later, arguing that the “present mood in the international markets does not allow for favourable terms for a loan”. (at that time, the Greek and Spanish crisis was banging hard, and eventually the required risk premium was too high) Late September 2010 however, and due to a high demand for low-risk investment grade emerging markets debt, Morocco secured a good deal, the total offer was twice more than the initial target levy, at a low premium discount. The bond is Euro-dominated, with about 57% European holding and 19% of Middle-east and North Africa origin. Now this should, in my opinion, be good news, in the sense that the Finance Ministry managed to secured good money at low price. The question remains, how is it going to be put to use? If, as La Vie Eco suggested late May 2010, the government plans to use the money and reimburse an outstanding total debt of MAD 36 Bn (Finance Ministry Figures, Q1 2010) then where would the money come from to pay the coupons, and ultimately, the principal in 10 years’ time? Over the last 3 years, the average annual foreign middle and long-term service debt was about MAD 2.621 Bn, that is 52% of the effective annual coupon Morocco has to service with the new borrowing. It would be foolish to contemplate such policy that reminds us of earlier times, when Morocco was desperately borrowing money to pay back previous contracted debts. It is foolish because of our reliance on foreign currencies. Let us suppose for the sake of argument that there will be benefits in halving our foreign deficit. It would mean that (a) Morocco can borrow some more for other purposes, and (b) the economy is prepared to divert an annual amount of MAD 513Mn in Foreign Currencies and pay back its debt in 10 years time, whatever the economic conjecture impact on Morocco (by means of comparison, the coupon represents about 10-15% of the average annual interest paid on medium and long term debt).
While the first assumption can be translated into seemingly sensible policy of substituting debt, the second one shades great doubts on its soundness, and ultimately exposes its main contradictions. Indeed, the terms upon which the bond emission was agreed are not likely the be met in the present course of time. You will notice the graph on the opposite side that volatility (and thus, required risk premium) has risen sharply since the end of September. If the Ministry goes out on the market in the next months, and bearing in mind the present trend, it will be difficult to reiterate the feat of levying such amount at such low price. The bottom line is, the Bond cannot be used to reduce the level of debt. I had the funny assumption that the government could use the money and invest it in turns in the market for a higher return and capture some profit in the process. I could develop some more later. The last strategy we are left with is therefore to actually spend the money i.e. inject some liquidity in the economic circuit. The way the money is pumped up in the economy will certainly determine the course of our economy for the next decade. Let us start off with some figures to understand how a billion Euro is not only too large a sum of money to be trifled with, but it might be a blessing in disguise to renovate some of our public economic policies as well.

The recent upgrade in Morocco’s sovereign debt rating in March 2010 finally came into concrete result, in the sense that the present market pricing of our debt gives a quantitative aspect to the rating upgrade. It also means the international capital markets, on which Morocco did not issue debt since 2007, reacted favourably to a new investment-grade debt that is deemed to be yielding enough to attract high demand, but on the same time with low risk with respect to other top-tier “junk” bonds.

The starting point is of course the considerable effort the Finance Ministry consented in order to reduce public deficit and public debt. And indeed the efforts have been must successful. It must be pointed out however, outstanding and interest debt did not fall in the same fashion; In fact, paid interest are comparatively more volatile to the remaining debt, due to a heterogeneous debt structure (an aggregate of common yet distinct maturities as well as an undeniable currency effect) but the fact remains it is quite difficult to forecast how likely the service debt would impact the economy. Please bear in mind the graph did not take into account the present bond emission, which when accrued, drives the paid interest to a two-fold increase for Q4 2010.

The Ministry (and la Vie Eco as well it seems) keep on comparing the level of debt to the GDP. Though it provides a good idea of how indebted a country is, or how likely a country is able to pay back its debt, it is, in all fairness not accurate nor a good indicator of the actual capabilities in paying back the debt. We should instead look at how well our foreign trade is performing. The reason for such choice is clear: because Moroccan Dirham is not a worldwide currency, we cannot expect the whole economy to pay back a debt. The stream of currency cash flow it generates through trade would instead. Our terms of trades, as well as our present balance of payment are the essential key to understand how crucial the bond emission is, and how equally important it is that we do not mess up with the money. As pointed before, the terms of trades are steadily degrading; Our exports are losing value with respect to the imports’, and the currency reserve is subsequently (but also due to other factors as well) degrading. According to the Office Des Changes and Bank Al Maghrib Figures, not only the balance of good deficit is deepening, but the capital balance does not follow suit (in the opposite direction that is) in facts, while the trade deficit steadily gets worse, capital net inflows are comparatively volatile, a volatility that has a sizeable impact on the national currency holdings. One might ask the question: why should we bother about capital inflows? Does it have any relation with our growth? As a matter of fact, it does. The import structure is very capital intensive. Indeed, according to the Office des Changes statistical survey, 44.6% of the total imports between January and August 2010 were capital-intensive: agricultural and industrial equipment, but also consumption goods such as cars, electronic and household equipment. Oddly enough, Oil imports do not amount to such values (Oil represents less than 8% of total 2010 imports). To sum up, the imports, capital and high skill intensive are less and less met by equal export value, and that could give some idea on how the bond emission could be used.

So there we are: we need money because the terms of trade are less and less in our favour. The borrowed money could be invested in machinery, industrial plants and agricultural investment, or, equally, to please the growing crowd of would-be middle-class aspirations  and allow for some rise in wages in order to secure cheap publicity. A blogger colleague offered to vote for the Finance Minister’s party in order to bind him with the debt and urge him to spend it wisely. M. Mezouar does not have to, and even if he wants, he couldn’t. He is just overseeing the spending modalities; As for the strategic thinking, the decisions are taken higher up. a Bloomberg analyst reported M. Mezouar stating that: “The government forecasts economic growth to reach 5 percent in 2011, increasing by 0.5 percent annually through 2013″. I don’t know about this forecast, but it does not say a thing about the economy’s ability to pay back each year MAD 513Mn. In facts, if growth is fuelled by domestic demand, that would be bad news indeed, for domestic demand consumes high amounts of capital-intensive (and ultimately, expensive) goods that are not produced in Morocco. If anything, M. Mezouar has the opportunity of an easy ride: There is an election in 2012, and he could easily tempted to back up substantial tax cuts (or wage increase) to win him some popularity. Now this is all politics, and it does not say much about how the money could expand the economy. As mentioned before, the money could be in turn invested in another sovereign debt as well. Which one then? the US Treasury Bonds? Well, the higher yield is 3.40% for a 20-years maturities; What about the French or German debts then? It is riskier to invest the money in another emerging country. The only viable alternative (or as Thatcher used to say, TINA) is to boost the exports with the billion in hand. The targeted sectors would be the semi-manufactured goods, consumption and equipment goods (all of which make up for 68% of the total exports) That involves tax cuts and tax incentives the government cannot deliver; The inflow will actually be used by the treasury and the central bank, subsequently pumped up in the financial markets and would end up in the private banks’ hands. The problem lies in the way the banks will use the money; The most dynamic sector (and for the banks, quite lucrative one might say) is real estate, a sector that is notoriously unable to deliver currency cash flow. So how’s to trust?

The idea of employing the CDG fund remains therefore the least disagreeable solution. Mezouar loses every authority over the money, and the sovereign fund gets the money, which is all for the best to generate cash. As an institutional investor, the CDG will look for the best opportunities to offset the money. The core question remains: would this benefit to all Moroccans? or rather, would it benefit to those working in export industries? Wait and See I think, until the first coupon payment that is.
New York Times highlights cultural & historical diversity of Morocco destination.
Washington - The leading US newspaper The New York Times highlighted, on Wednesday, Morocco's cultural, archeological and historical diversity.
The New York Times, in an article published on its website, recommends "a fly to Marrakech, an alluring city with a fascinating blend of cultures."

    “Marrakesh’s main attractions lie within the salmon-pink walls of its ancient medina,” the paper says, inviting its readers to “wander around the maze of alleyways, and explore souks filled with stalls that sell all manner of goods, including spices, kitchenware and textiles.”

    “After sunset, head to one of North Africa’s most famous markets, Djemaa el Fna, a huge, open square that comes alive at night with food stalls and entertainment like musical performances and snake-charming,” underscores the paper.

    Highlighting the easiness of traveling between Morocco’s major cities, the paper recommends a journey to the imperial city of Meknes and its fascinating medina, which is “decidedly less crowded than the ones in Marrakesh and Fez.”

    “Take a bus to the town of Moulay Idriss, about 16 miles north of Meknes, a pilgrimage center, named after Moulay Idris I, the founder of the Idrisid Dynasty. The impressive Roman ruins of Volubilis are nearby,” the New York Times suggests.

    The paper described the imperial city of Fez, about 38 miles from Meknes, as a cultural, intellectual and religious center, saying that “its medieval medina, Fes el Bali, is especially intricate and sprawling” featuring places, such as the 14th-century Bou Inania school and mosque with their stunning decorative artwork.

    The New York Times also recommends its readers not to miss to visit “the ninth-century Karaouine University, considered the world’s oldest continuously operating institution of higher learning; and the leather tanneries.”
Moroccan market offers 'enormous potential' for US investors.
Washington - The Moroccan market offers "enormous potential" for the American investors, chairwoman of the Foreign Committee in Morocco's House of Representatives (Lower House) Mbarka Bouaida told the US economic magazine "Global Atlanta."
    "Morocco is a stable country with enormous trade potential for the United States," said Bouaida on the sidelines of a recent visit to Atlanta (United States).
    "America believes in Morocco as a model for the region," she underlined, highlighting the Kingdom's political stability and economic growth.
    Bouaida, who pointed out that the United States and Morocco have a long-standing friendship, also said that the Kingdom was one of the first countries in the world to recognize the U.S, recalling that the two countries are currently linked with a free-trade agreement.
    “Tourism, renewable energy and highway construction are a few promising areas for U.S. investment,” she said, adding that the north African country is “pushing for the production of more renewable energy, particularly wind and solar.”
    She also highlighted Morocco’s progress, notably in terms of freedoms and women’s rights, as evidence by the increase of their representation in the Parliament.
Just Back: Confessions from the kasbah. By Nick Bradbury15 Oct 2010.
This week's winner of our writing competition is Nick Bradbury, who recounts a guilty secret from Marrakesh.
My mother may be 74, but she's a texting addict. So when I go on holiday, I ask myself the same question a gap-year traveller would, despite being in my late forties. Just how much should I tell the parents?
The night we arrived in Marrakesh we made straight for the Medina, so I texted: "Asked random guy the way. Following him deeper and deeper into Old City. No idea where we are…" This gave my mother a brief thrill of uncertainty, even though she knows my girlfriend speaks Arabic. Anyway, I knew that Marrakesh is the safest city in Morocco.
I don't mind sending the frequent real-time updates that they crave back in Devon. It gives me an opportunity for a bit of mild boasting. And no one else can really object when I mumble, "Gotta send the parents another text…"
Pretending to tap away at the mobile bought me valuable thinking time at La Mamounia, which must have about seven stars. I could afford to buy drinks in the Churchill Bar, as long as no one ordered the great PM's favourite champagne.
But dinner at this hotel was well outside the budget. So, one fake text to my mother later, and I'd mentally assembled an excuse for us to go elsewhere – in search of that spurious tourist aim: authenticity.
Sometimes composing a real message lures me into trying too hard. My girlfriend was not enjoying our walk around Jardin Majorelle, restored a decade ago by Yves Saint Laurent and his partner. She couldn't stand the reverential silence. Catching her mood, I texted Mum: "Garden beautifully done, I suppose, but it hovers uncertainly between twee and Zen". I thought this clever and accurate. Mum replied: "Don't be an arse." No kiss, either.
Like my mother, Moroccans are tolerant of cats, so it was easy to report back truthfully that kittens are everywhere. On the streets they survive the vast number of motor-scooters that threaten pedestrians. And in restaurants, cats beg successfully for food.
When it came to a larger beast, I was less explicit: "This is far from Sidmouth donkey sanctuary."
But by the last morning in Marrakesh, the place had worked some magic: "Wake very early. Wash very little. Feel way up seven flights to starlit roof terrace. Cold. Slowly, far beyond satellite dishes and minarets of kasbah, dawn outlines snow-capped High Atlas."
What I had concealed completely was my reversion to a filthy old habit. We were buying postcards in the great market place of Djemaa el Fna. And there, behind the counter, was the brand of French fag I'd smoked as a pretentious student. Within two minutes, I was coolly exhaling glamorous blue smoke from my nostrils. Thirty seconds after that, I coughed so much that I nearly collided with a snake charmer.
Please don't tell my mother.
The night we arrived in Marrakesh we made straight for the Medina, so I texted: "Asked random guy the way. Following him deeper and deeper into Old City. No idea where we are…" This gave my mother a brief thrill of uncertainty, even though she knows my girlfriend speaks Arabic. Anyway, I knew that Marrakesh is the safest city in Morocco.
I don't mind sending the frequent real-time updates that they crave back in Devon. It gives me an opportunity for a bit of mild boasting. And no one else can really object when I mumble, "Gotta send the parents another text…"
Pretending to tap away at the mobile bought me valuable thinking time at La Mamounia, which must have about seven stars. I could afford to buy drinks in the Churchill Bar, as long as no one ordered the great PM's favourite champagne.
But dinner at this hotel was well outside the budget. So, one fake text to my mother later, and I'd mentally assembled an excuse for us to go elsewhere – in search of that spurious tourist aim: authenticity.
Sometimes composing a real message lures me into trying too hard. My girlfriend was not enjoying our walk around Jardin Majorelle, restored a decade ago by Yves Saint Laurent and his partner. She couldn't stand the reverential silence. Catching her mood, I texted Mum: "Garden beautifully done, I suppose, but it hovers uncertainly between twee and Zen". I thought this clever and accurate. Mum replied: "Don't be an arse." No kiss, either.
Like my mother, Moroccans are tolerant of cats, so it was easy to report back truthfully that kittens are everywhere. On the streets they survive the vast number of motor-scooters that threaten pedestrians. And in restaurants, cats beg successfully for food.
When it came to a larger beast, I was less explicit: "This is far from Sidmouth donkey sanctuary."
But by the last morning in Marrakesh, the place had worked some magic: "Wake very early. Wash very little. Feel way up seven flights to starlit roof terrace. Cold. Slowly, far beyond satellite dishes and minarets of kasbah, dawn outlines snow-capped High Atlas."
What I had concealed completely was my reversion to a filthy old habit. We were buying postcards in the great market place of Djemaa el Fna. And there, behind the counter, was the brand of French fag I'd smoked as a pretentious student. Within two minutes, I was coolly exhaling glamorous blue smoke from my nostrils. Thirty seconds after that, I coughed so much that I nearly collided with a snake charmer.
Please don't tell my mother.
Driving to Civilly. AHMED TAIBI , Friday, 15 October 201
There is no better time to talk about Morocco’s new driving code – moudawanat attarik – than between 4 PM and 7 PM while in a city taxi (taxi sghir) in Casablanca. I stood a stone’s throw from La Chope and hailed four or five cabs only to hear an indifferent and laconic “no” when I asked to go to the intersection of Joullane and Abdelkader Assahraoui, not far from “stade Tessima.” Taxis in Casablanca routinely deny customers if they feel the ride would take too long and generate meager revenues. Mind you, I had no particular business there other than I wanted the longest ride possible through the choked arteries of the city to talk about the new driving code.
The code went into effect October 1st. Karim Ghellab, Morocco’s minister of transportation and the architect of the code, put his nose to the grindstone for two years during which he faced staunch disapproval from Moroccan political institutions that had long been fueled by an irrational guild and tenure outlook; his own colleagues within the government as well as his natural political enemies and transportation unions affiliated with opposition political parties derided his initiative. Since 2007, the Workers’ Union of Morocco and the General Confederation of Enterprises of Morocco staged multiple strikes to soften the code. When it was finally approved in 2009 by the First Chamber of Morocco’s parliament, very few amendments had been introduced. The code remains polemic drawing the ire of most professional drivers and the approbation of the majority of pedestrians and private vehicle owners.

The way I see it, the code has been a long time coming. For years, the staggering statistics of road accidents have put the government in full damage-control mode; with over 4000 deaths a year, thousands of injured, and over 1.37 billion dollars in damages, Moroccan roads are tantamount to an active combat theater where the population ventures, on a daily basis, exposed to constant hazard and grave danger.To put the number of Moroccan road casualties in perspective, in seven years of war in Iraq, the US recorded 4,411 fatalities. In essence, the vehicles barreling down our streets, through our neighborhood where our children, for lack of more adequate places, play, are stray bullets; their drivers are intractably psychotic and harboring an unjustified hatred for their fellow Moroccans.

Finally a taxi accepted to take me. Other people shouted their destinations at the driver, an old wiry man wearing thick glasses, who shook his head in negation. I jumped into the front seat. His use of the horn seemed impulsive. His finger twitched and pressed the horn lever behind the steering wheel. It sounded like the beep-beep of Road Runner in Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner toon. Beep-beep for an old woman waiting to cross the road. Beep-beep for dodging bicycles and scooter fishtailing in traffic. Beep-beep for another car that cut in front of him. Beep-beep for carts pushed against traffic. Beep-beep for… nothing. Around us, the horns are blaring. The air is heavy with smoke spewed by rattling exhaust pipes. The roads are congested.

“which way do you wanna go?” he asked.

“Go up Mohammed VI, Allahykhalik.”

“That road is bursting right now.”

And of course he was right. Mohammed VI, formerly know as “trek Medyouna” (the road to Medyouna), is a nightmare at this time of the day. The taxi jerked with overconfidence from one spot and swerved into an empty spot in a screeching halt oblivious of lanes, priority, proximity or even civility. Beep-beep, jerk, swerve, race, screeching halt. A cycle that the driver repeated with dexterity, rage, and sometimes criminal disregard stopping inches from other vehicles demonstrating superhuman proprioception.

“What do you think about the Moudawana?”

“It’s a “mount anta wana” – you die and I die,” he said. “Look at how the prices of produce spiked because trucks coming from Agadir and other cities can’t carry the tonnage they used to. The “little people” are the ones who’re going to pay.”

The tonnage argument is totally wrong. The new law allows an eight-ton truck to load up to 14 tons of merchandise. This was a convenient excuse producers picked up to increase their profit margin.

“Seven-hundred Dirhams for running a red light,” he continued. “Too much! where’s a poor man gonna get that much money to pay his ticket. Doesn’t he have rent to pay? His kids ‘school to pay? Where’s his family going to eat from? This law won’t be applied on the son of such or such politician or judge. If he runs a red light, the cop who took his license will deliver it back to him at his house and ask him for forgiveness.”

“Nobody should run a red light,” I said.

“I agree with you, but look,” he says pointing at a traffic police officer forlornly standing next to a green metal box. “He has his fingers on the light controls. He’d switch the light from green to red on you so that he can pull you over and take your driver’s license. No pity. It happened to me, I swear.”

We stopped at a red light. On a three lane road, we were five cars at the head of a cortege of thundering jalopies, busses and eighteen wheelers. Horns sounded out insistently even though the light was red. When it turned green, everybody peeled ahead as if we were at the starting line of a Paris-Dakar race. A female driver cut right hard in front of my taxi; the driver slammed on the brakes screaming insults; he dodged another vehicle then passed another one and moved forward.

“See! It’s drivers like this that deserve the Moudawana,” he said. “Most drivers will run out of points in two months,” he opined making reference to the new point system the code introduces.

Mohammed VI looked like an open demolition derby. Pedestrians crossed the road recklessly and throngs of people stood on the road waiting for a white taxi as traffic zoomed by. Assabah newspaper reported that 1200 infractions were recorded in three hours in a busy section of Casablanca. Amid the chaos, disaster looms, but is somehow kept in abeyance. But the drivers are not the only contributing factor to that chaos; our rural and urban roads and sidewalks are neither expensive, nor elaborate. They are cogent evidence of the shameless failure of our leadership for allowing transportation infrastructure to deteriorate.

The implementation of the new code will promote new convictions and best practices. I see it as a hearse for an entrenched superannuated mind-set blinkered by a culture of disregard, pathetic work ethics, and poor social bonds. It will require time and patience as old habits are hard to change, but if Moroccans drive slower or less, respecting the law, not for any other reason than because it is the law, and respecting others sharing the road with them, we are on to a good start.   A. T. B. © 2010
Funding development - Kuwait invests $1 billion in Morocco.
- Ahmed Rashid    Friday, 15 October 2010
Morocco (Rabat) - The Kuwaiti investments in Morocco reached about 8 billion dirhams ($1 billion) in various sectors, Morocco's Economy and Finance Minister Salaheddine Mezouar said on Thursday.

These investments significantly increased with a tendency for more sectoral diversification, Mezouar told the press following the signing ceremony of four agreements to reinforce the Moroccan-Kuwaiti cooperation, under the chairmanship of HM King Mohammed VI and HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

The Moroccan official added that Kuwait is one of the Kingdom's main partners in terms of funding development projects in Morocco (ports, highways, electricity, high speed rail, dams…).

The Moroccan-Kuwaiti agreements signed on Thursday reflect the deep and sound bilateral relations, he said, underlining that the two countries are willing to further boost trade exchanges which do not live up to their expectations.

The contribution of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development to development projects in Morocco increased to 1.2 billion dollars, said on Thursday in Rabat the Fund's managing director, Abdelwahab Ahmed Al-Badr.

The Fund has signed 36 agreements as part of the Moroccan-Kuwaiti cooperation, he told the press after the signing ceremony of four agreements on bilateral cooperation under the chairmanship of HM King Mohammed VI and the Amir of Kuwait HH Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

Abdelwahab Ahmed Al-Badr added that the Kuwait Fund will, under these agreements, finance a development project on the transmission of electricity worth 20 million Kuwaiti dinars, as well as a high-speed train project, with a contribution of 40 million Kuwaiti dinars.

Cooperation between the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development and Morocco's electricity utility, known by its French acronym ONE, stood at 1.011 billion dirhams ($125 mln) under the form of four loans.

These loans contributed, since 1975, to the funding and building of the central thermal of Kenitra, the Al Wahda central hydroelectric power plant, the hydraulic complex of Dchar El Oued-Aït Messaoud, and the implementation of the fourth phase of the comprehensive rural electrification programme, the ONE said in a statement.

The two parties signed another agreement worth 660 million dirhams, on Thursday in Rabat, during the official visit of HH the Amir of Kwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

The agreement aims to reinfoirce the network of electricity transmission in the southern provinces.

Global Arab Network

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