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FOM Newsletter September 2000
Morocco Week in Review
 
September 9, 2000

Ten-day campaign to serve schools and schooling.
Two reserves to protect endangered gazelles and moufflons.
Three Companies Selected to Configure E-Commerce Platform for Cooperatives.
Dh 200 Million for Supplementary Irrigation.
Tetuan Wind Power Plant Starts Operation.
IMF hails morocco's success in maintaining macroeconomic stability and curbing external account
Arab teachers session for human rights training opens.
King Mohammed operates cabinet reshuffle.
Joblessness in Morocco increases in second quarter of 2000.
Archeologists conduct excavations north of Rabat.
Moroccan movie gets ecumenical prize at Montreal's world cinema festival.
Lending $317 Million in World Bank Lending Commitments for the Magrheb in FY'00.
Morocco - Economic Indicators Inflation At 1.9% At The End Of June
Miniature painting by Moroccan artist enters Guinness book.
Morocco raises oil products price by up to 10.8 percent.
Voices rise against fuel prices hike.
New oil wells will be drilled in Morocco next year.
Industry added-value improves by 3.4% in jan-march 2000.

Ten-day campaign to serve schools and schooling.

Education, 9/5/2000

The Moroccan national education department launched on Monday a campaign dubbed "Ten days at the service of schools and schooling," meant to encourage new admissions and improve schools.

National education minister, Ismail Alaoui, explained that executives from his department will be touring various regions of the kingdom to promote awareness among the civil society. Morocco targets to generalize schooling by 2002, with a total of 3,797,000 primary schools pupils, which is an increase of 8.6%, including 1,858,000 in rural areas ("13%). Regarding newly-registered students, the minister said their number will reach 755,000 kids, increasing by 10%, including 421,000 in rural areas ("14%). Alaoui also deplored a regression in new registrations for 2000-2001 academic year, explaining that only 62% of the targeted figure was reached. He ascribed the situation to drought which entailed a strong exodus to big cities. Meanwhile, 10,500 new teachers were scheduled to be recruited but the finance ministry-approved budget only earmarked 9,000 new positions, which will lead to classroom crowding, with an average standing at 32 pupils for each teacher, while the norm is 23 pupils for each teacher.

http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/000905/2000090523.html

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Two reserves to protect endangered gazelles and moufflons.

Environment, 9/8/2000

Two permanent reserves were created in the province of Boulemane (region of Fez) toaccommodate endangered species, particularly gazelles and moufflons. Only two gazelle species still live in the region. 30 years ago, herds of gazelles lived in the area. After 1976, apparently, due to a particularly harsh winter that year, the gazelles population started to shrink. Moufflon, bigger and more robust, is a fearful animal with strong horns and acute hearing. Groups of moufflons, already very small, continued to shrink, mainly in the middle Atlas. Since 1988, 12 to 15 individuals were seen during spring and local inhabitants say their number was almost double before 1976.

http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/000908/2000090830.html

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Three Companies Selected to Configure E-Commerce Platform for Cooperatives.

September 6, 2000 Marrakech

Three companies have been selected from nine contenders to assist the Ministry of General Government Affairs in creating an e- commerce platform for Moroccan cooperatives. The firms are Maroc Telecommerce (all sectors), Taqlidi-e of the Omni Data group (handicrafts), and Agro Marche Maroc (agriculture). Twenty cooperatives will be included in the pilot project, which is due to be launched on 8th January 2001. [Upline Securities]

http://allafrica.com/stories/200009060167.html

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Dh 200 Million for Supplementary Irrigation.

September 6, 2000 Marrakech

The Hassan II Fund for Economic and Social Development has allocated Dh200 million to finance a 30% subsidy for new supplementary irrigation installations. Supplementary irrigation provides water at critical phases in the crop growth cycle if sufficient rainwater is not available, and is intended to save harvests when drought strikes in areas not regularly irrigated. The subsidy is aimed primarily at stabilizing the cereals harvest, and farmers benefiting from it must devote half their equipped land to cereals and use water-conserving irrigation techniques. The Agriculture Ministry hopes to bring 97,000 hectares under supplementary irrigation over the next five years. [Upline Securities]

http://allafrica.com/stories/200009060166.html

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Tetuan Wind Power Plant Starts Operation.

CASABLANCA- The ģAbdelkhalek Torresī wind power plant, in Tetuan (northern Morocco) started operation and was linked to the national electric grid on August 29. With a total power of 50.4 megawatts, the facility -one of the largest in Africa and the Arab world - is the most important investment in Morocco in renewable energies. The 84 wind-driven generators of the $ 60-million worth facility will produce a total of 226 million kilowatts per year, i.e. the yearly consumption of a city of the size of Tetuan and enable to spare 56,000 tons of fuel annually. The plant-produced energy, to cover 2 % of Morocco's electricity consumption, will enable to reduce oil imports by more than 46,000 tons per year and consequently save nearly $ 8 million in hard currencies.

http://www.map.co.ma/english/dispatches/national_news.htm

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IMF hails morocco's success in maintaining macroeconomic stability and curbing external account deficit.

Economics, 9/4/2000

Macroeconomic stability has been successfully maintained in Morocco, as evidenced by the stabilization of trend inflation at around 2%, and of the external current account deficit below 1 % percent of GDP in 1999, says a report of the International Monetary Fund's governing board released Friday. The effects of a widening trade imbalance have been largely compensated by a strong recovery in tourism receipts, says the document which expects Morocco's external position to remain strong despite an increase in 2000 of the current account deficit in conjunction with a significant deterioration in the terms of trade. Meanwhile, the document says external debt is being reduced and reserves have been replenished to a comfortable level by large non-debt private capital inflows mostly linked to privatization. The IMF expects such inflows to continue on a large scale over the next few years, as the capital of major public enterprises will be opened to private sector participation. However, growth performance has weakened during the 1990s, partly as a result of a high frequency of droughts, notwithstanding a steady improvement in social indicators, reads the document released following the conclusion of the Article IV consultation. Following a contraction in 1999, GDP growth has been affected by a second year of drought and is projected to reach only 2.5% this year.

On the positive side, the IMF says, investment has picked up considerably over the last two years, reflecting a number of structural improvements in the economy, but also a catch-up effect from earlier years of low investment. The report notes progress toward further fiscal consolidation has been limited and tax revenue increased significantly in 1998/99, including proceeds of a tax amnesty and the subsequent strengthening of corporate tax collection. The fiscal deficit (excluding privatization revenue) narrowed to 2.5% of GDP from 3.4% in 1997/98, leading to a further decline in public debt.

The IMF report expects the budget deficit (excluding privatization revenue and GSM license receipts) to widen to 4.8% of GDP In FY 1999/00. Including privatization revenue and GSM license receipts, the overall fiscal balance is expected to decline from 2.4% of GDP to 1.9% of GDP. The availability of these exceptional revenues (GSM license receipts amounted to 3.2% of GDP) has contained the government's borrowing requirement. However, the budget continues to suffer from important rigidities, namely the size of the wage bill (12% of GDP), distortions in the tax system (in particular tax exemption in agriculture) and an inefficient, although not very costly, system of food subsidies.

The IMF notes Morocco still needs to address several challenges: a revised labor code, providing for greater labor market flexibility, has yet to be approved, and the reform of the civil service and of the system of food subsidies, along with further price liberalization in agriculture, are still under discussion. Despite the strong external position, the external competitiveness of some export sectors has been likely affected during the 1990s by an appreciation of the real effective exchange rate. This, along with other important factors, may have contributed to some losses in export market shares when compared to more export-oriented developing countries. The substantial rise in capital formation over the last couple of years should reinforce export capacity, and tourism receipts and related activities have already rebounded over the last two years. IMF directors did not expect the rising budgetary imbalance to have adverse macroeconomic effects in the short run, inasmuch as there is substantial slack in the economy and as proceeds from the sale of the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) license and privatization receipts would help finance the deficit. They also commended the authorities for maintaining macroeconomic stability through a period of recurrent severe droughts and international financial turmoil as well as changes in the political landscape. Noting that these factors made economic management all the more challenging, Directors welcomed the authorities' pursuit of prudent financial policies and steady structural reforms. They were concerned, nevertheless, by the significant slowdown in growth observed during the 1990s, and the associated increases in poverty and unemployment.

Directors supported the policy objectives of the authorities' medium-term plan aimed at realizing the country's growth potential, notably the commitment to continue structural reforms and to reduce the fiscal deficit to a more sustainable level. Directors welcomed the improvements made in monetary policy management and financial modernization over the last few years, and commended the central bank for its role in preserving price stability. Directors commended the authorities' efforts to improve the dissemination and timeliness of statistical information, including through Internet websites. They noted that further efforts were needed to broaden the coverage of government finance statistics to include local governments.

http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/000904/2000090424.html

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Arab teachers session for human rights training opens.

Politics, 9/5/2000

A training session for Arab teachers in matters of human rights and peace, opened in Rabat Monday. More than 50 teachers and education decision-makers are attending the session, held, sept.4 through 9, in cooperation with the Geneva-based Human Rights and Education Center. The event features round tables on human rights and the right to education and democracy and women's rights in the Arab World. The encounter is attended by participants from Tunisia, Mauritania, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Morocco. Speaking at the opening of the meeting, Moroccan Premier, Abderrahmane Youssoufi, said education to human rights is an integral part of any development policy meant to promote the human being and consequently ensure a strong economic take off. He underlined that the fight against illiteracy and poverty and the promotion of women and vulnerable social layers are a requisite for education in human rights and democracy. He recalled that the Moroccan government has put on top of its priorities political, juridical and educational reforms as well as fight against poverty and the promotion of women. For his part, Moroccan human rights minister, Mohamed Aujjar, announced that Morocco will include as of this academic year human rights in school syllabi. The experiment will be first conducted in the cities of Oujda, Tetouan, Meknes, Casablanca and Agadir, he said.

http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/000905/2000090520.html

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King Mohammed operates cabinet reshuffle.

9/6/2000

Morocco's King Mohammed VI on Wednesday operated a cabinet reshuffle, downsizing the number of ministerial portfolios from 43 to 33. The king appointed the new cabinet during an official ceremony, held at the royal palace of Agadir, southern Morocco, this Wednesday noon. Under the Moroccan constitution, the King appoints the ministers upon the proposal of the Prime Minister.

Abderrahmane Youssoufi, first secretary of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP), who has been leading since March 1998 a seven-party center-left coalition government, is still at the head of the cabinet. The same Seven political parties represented in the 1998 government are forming the new cabinet, namely the USFP (10 portfolios), the Istiqlal Party (PI/4 portfolios), the National rally of Independents (RNI/ 4 portfolios), the National Popular Movement (MNP/ 3 portfolios), the Party for Progress and Socialism (PPS/2 portfolios), the Social Democratic Party (PSD/ 1 portfolio) and the Democratic Forces Front (FFD/ 1 portfolio). Eight of the cabinet members are independent. There are four newcomers in the reshuffled cabinet, two from the USFP, namely Nacer Hajji -Secretary of state in charge of post and information and communication technologies--and Abdelkrim Ben Atiq-- Secretary of state to the minister of social economy, small and medium-sized enterprises and handicraft. The two other newcomers are from the Istiqlal Party, namely the party¼s secretary general Abbas El-Fassi, who holds the portfolio of employment, vocational training, social development and solidarity, and M¼Hammed Al-Khalifa, appointed minister of public service and administrative reform. Morocco entered the alternation experience in 1998, with the coming to power of a socialist-led coalition government after decades of right-wing rule.

http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/000906/2000090615.html

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Joblessness in Morocco increases in second quarter of 2000.

Economics, 9/6/2000

Joblessness in Morocco increased from 12.9 % to 13.2 % between the second quarter of 1999 and that of 2000, the Moroccan statistics department said. Joblessness among women went up by 2%, while the rate of jobless diploma holders went up by 4%. The number of active population stagnated in the second three months of 2000.

http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/000906/2000090617.html

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Archeologists conduct excavations north of Rabat.

History, 9/6/2000

A team of Moroccan and Italian archeologists started last week excavations in the historical Thamusida site on the left shore of the Sebou river that runs from the Middle Atlas mountains into the Atlantic sea, some 40 Km north of Rabat. The works to last till September 30 are conducted by six Moroccan and ten Italian archeologists. The Italians had conducted last year preliminary research on this site where excavations had already been made in 1930 and 1960 by French searchers. According to the archeologists, the Romans had settled in 200 BC in the village where the Thamusida historical site is located and had set a garrison and a fortress, deemed the largest in Mauritania Tangitane after this kingdom was annexed by the Roman Empire. The buildings and ceramic items unearthed evidence the development level reached by Thamusida. Moroccan historian, Mustapha M'Chich Alami asserts in his book on the history of the Gharb region through its sites and monuments that Thamusida's economic life was based on trade, industrial and military activities. The city was actually a garrison, a large river port and a center of transit to the hinterland. A belt of surveillance towers ensured the security of the city that was extending over nearly 13 hectares. The city included a military camp, religious temples, thermal baths, and an industrial district harboring a salting unit, stores and ovens for metal works. In the eastern part of the city, a temple, lodgings and a necropolis were discovered. Searchers found out that the houses were similar to those discovered in Volubilis, a Roman site near the city of Meknes (170 KM north-east of Rabat). Bronze statutes, a collection of vases, lamps, amphorae, and coins were discovered on the site.

http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/000906/2000090616.html

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Moroccan movie gets ecumenical prize at Montreal's world cinema festival.

Culture, 9/6/2000

"Ali Zaoua," by Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch, has won the ecumenical prize for best movie at the Montreal's world movies festival that closed Monday. The prize comes to reward "artistic qualities and contribution to human progress and in recognition of its spiritual, social and ethical values." The jury was chaired by Iranian director, Abbas Kiarostami. The Moroccan movie will carry on next week its American tour and will be featured in the opening of the Planet restaurant chain in Toronto. "Ali Zaoua," the second movie directed by Nabil Ayouch, stars real homeless

children, which brought the sympathy of movie-goers and jury members.

http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/000906/2000090620.html

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Lending $317 Million in World Bank Lending Commitments for the Magrheb in FY'00.

The World Bank's lending commitments for the MENA region (Middle East & North Africa) totaled $950.4 million during the institution's 2000 fiscal year that ended June 30, 2000. According to a World Bank press release, the funds have been earmarked to finance 21 projects in 10 MENA countries. The World Bank reports a $190.2 million in concessional loans from the International

Development Association (IDA) and a $760.2 million in market-based loans from the International

Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). Tunisia has been MENA's second largest borrower with $202 million, behind Iran with $232 million. Algeria received $97.4 million and Morocco got $7.4 million, down from FY99's $440 million. In addition to the $7.4 million loan,

Morocco was granted a $9.8 million Global Environment Facility fund.According to the World Bank, Morocco received the largest share of cumulative IBRD and IDA lending for MENA with 25% of the cumulative $34 billion.

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Morocco - Economic Indicators Inflation At 1.9% At The End Of June .

Over the month of June 2000, Morocco's Consumer Price Index dropped by 0.2% compared to the previous month of May. This variation was due to a decrease of 0.5% of the foodstuff products index. The average CPI growth rate over the first half of 2000, compared to that of the same period of last year, has moved up 1.9% (inflation rate). [Cdmc]

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Miniature painting by Moroccan artist enters Guinness book.

Culture, 9/8/2000

A miniature painting by Moroccan artist Fatiha Nejjar has entered the Guinness world records book as the smallest hand-painting. The 1.2cm-long, 0.9 cm-wide painting shows a human face. The artist, a self-made woman, who is exhibiting her newest works at the Oudayas museum in Rabat is the daughter of a renowned carpenter. She first displayed her talented work in 1999.

http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/000908/2000090829.html

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Morocco raises oil products price by up to 10.8 percent.

RABAT (September 3) : Morocco raised the price of refined oil products by up to 10.8 percent due mainly to a surge of crude oil prices on the international market, the official MAP agency said on Saturday. Morocco, which has no oil of its own, is expected to import this year more than seven million tonnes of crude oil, mainly from the Gulf countries at the cost of $1.4 billion. "The government of Socialist Prime Minister Abderrahmane El Youssoufi was obliged to increase the price of energy products due to a surge of crude oil prices on the international market and impact of US dollar of the national currency," MAP said. MAP gave no breakdown of the new prices..Last week, one US dollar was exchanged at 10.7 dirhams against around 9.8 dirhams a year ago, official figures showed. In the first half of the year, the government has disbursed 2.57 billion dirhams ($236.9 million) from the state-run compensation fund to offset the effects of successive rises of crude prices on the domestic energy cost, MAP added.-Reuters

.Copyright 2000 Reuters (Published under arrangements with Reuters)

http://www.brecorder.com/story/S00DD/SDI03/SDI03201.htm

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Voices rise against fuel prices hike.

Economics, 9/5/2000

The Moroccan association of fruit producers and exporters (APEFEL) and the CDT union denounced the recent decision of the government to increase fuel prices. APEFEL warned the hike will have " serious consequences," as it (the hike) is a "fatal blow for the fruit market. "the heavily indebted small producers will not survive this measure," said the association, adding farmers are mobilized to express their anger over the measure. The association, which defends fruit producers interests, called on the authorities to cancel the increase move and for the setting up of a compensation

system. Petroleum products prices were increased by 4.8 to 10.8% as of last Saturday. The price of a liter of diesel went up by 9.3% to stand at 5.76 DH/liter ($1 = 10DH), ordinary petrol was increased by 9.8% (8.65DH/liter) and high grade petrol by 10.8% (9.05 DH/liter). The price of industrial fuel went up by 4.8% to stand at over 2,301 DH per ton. Moroccan energy and mining minister, Youssef Tahiri, had said the fuel price hike should have been over 50%, but the government had to take into account the population's purchasing power. CDT trade union, which is close to the Socialist Union of Popular Forces of Premier Abderrahmane Youssoufi, decried the government's decision to enforce fuel prices raise. The move "will reflect in a hike in other products prices and will adversely impact the labor classes purchasing power," the CDT said. The Citrus Fruits Assocation (ASPAM) also denounced the move as harmful to producers.

http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/000905/2000090522.html

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New oil wells will be drilled in Morocco next year.

Economics, 9/4/2000

Six new oil wells will be drilled in Talsint, eastern Morocco, and in an off-shore area in the region of Casablanca as of September 2001. The announcement was made over the weekend by Amina Benkhadra, director general of L'Office National de Recherches et d'Exploitations Petrolieres (ONAREP). Ms. Benkhadra told the Moroccan TV channel RTM that Lone Star Energy company-- an off-shoot of the US Skidmore inc-- has been granted several oil exploration licenses in the region of Loukous, Northern Morocco, Essaouira, Labrouj and in an off-shore area near Casablanca. She said geophysical studies conducted by the firm showed similarities between the structures in Talsint and structures in other parts of the kingdom.

Ms Benkhadra described the oil reserves in the off-shore area as very interesting from the geological standpoint. The sedimentary basins of this area, she said, extend over 320 KM" and their characteristics are similar to those of basins exploited in other countries such as Angola, Congo, Gabon and Mexico. She said she was confident that the exploration works would entail positive results and added several oil companies have applied for exploration licenses in other regions of Morocco. Besides Lone Star Energy company which is conducting exploration operations in the Talsint region, other firms, such as the Dutch "Shell" and the British "Entreprises" have submitted exploration requests in the region of Tiznit, southern Morocco. Lone Star Energy company will conduct experiments to accurately assess the volume of reserves, Ms Benkhadra said adding that the reserves of the Sidi Belkacem I wells are assessed at 7.5 to 10 million barrels. King Mohammed VI announced on August 20 the discovery of important oil and gas deposits in the Moroccan eastern region of Talsint and visited a few days later the Sidi Belkacem I oil field and the drilling platform where he heard explanations on the drilling operations and on the geological, technical and seismic characteristics of the site.

http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/000904/2000090417.html

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Industry added-value improves by 3.4% in jan-march 2000.

Economics, 9/6/2000

The industrial added value progress by 3.4% in the first three months of 2000, compared to 2.3% in the corresponding period of 1999. According to the newsletter of the statistics department, the progression is ascribed to the good performance of the agro-food sector where the added value increased by 17%. Industrial activity also benefited from a good behavior of mineral processing. The results, which could have been better, were mitigated by a weak performance of the textile, leather, chemical and para-chemical sectors, in addition to metallic, mechanical, electric and electronic industries. Textile and leather suffered from poor competitiveness. For the second three months of 2000, figures show that the processing industries will maintain the growth trend, but in a less sustained pace. Except for textile and leather, all other sectors will recover. In the three last months of 2000, the statistics department says the upward trend will be maintained for the processing industries but in a more rapid pace than in Apr-June 2000. Industrial growth will stand around 2.5% compared to the corresponding period of 1999.

http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/000906/2000090624.html


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