FOM Newsletter Fall 1999: News Round Up  11/2/99

Morocco stages second anti-poverty campaign. 11/1/99

Morocco is launching this Monday its second anti-poverty campaign that consists of collecting funds from individuals, companies and associations to alleviate poverty in the country. Held under the chairmanship of King Mohammed VI, the campaign is based on the solidarity of the haves with the have-nots. A special account was opened at all banking institutions for persons wishing to make a contribution. Other promotion materials, including tee-shirts and stamps, are also available. Last year, Morocco raised more than 86 million DH ($8.6 million) in cash and other contributions. According to official figures, around 13% of Moroccans are under the poverty line, and over 300,000 live on less than one dollar a day. A wide gap separates rural and urban areas: Poverty affects 7% of cities' populations and 18% of persons living in the rural world. A rate of 10% belongs to families whose annual per capita expenses do not exceed 3,047 DH ($347) in cities and 2,011 DH ($201) in the countryside. A UNDP report says 42% of Moroccans do not have access to sanitation, 35% do not have drinking water and 38% do not enjoy any health service.

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Moroccan government to start action on reform in government.10/30/99

The Moroccan government on Thursday announced practical measures to address the situation that worsened social and economic disparities in the country. The government will set up mechanisms to even social unbalances inherited from former policies, which led to the widening of social gaps and engendered poverty, Prime Minister Abderrahmane Youssoufi said at the weekly meeting of the Government Council. Youssoufi underlined that the guidelines made by King Mohammed VI are a reference for the government's short- and long-term action and a strong backing for its initiatives to operate deep reforms. Youssoufi said the Moroccan people closely follow the government's action to settle their problems. He noted that the people's assessment of such action is based on the cabianet's ability to show cohesion, maturity, loyalty and self-denial in the service of the citizen. The Youssoufi government has been under fire, even by influential figures of the parties represented in the Cabinet, for having done "almost nothing" to settle the country's problems. The prime minister announced urgent measures, including the creation of a strategic Commission for Administration Reform, which will convene a meeting on November 3 to examine problems pertaining to administrative ailments such as bureaucracy and corruption.

The setting up of a National Investment Agency is another major measure announced by the government in a bid to lower down all the obstacles that hinder the flow of foreign investments into the country. Part of the drives to clean the climate in the administration and ensure a rational management of public funds, the government eliminated all bogus jobs it discovered in the administration. Civil servants will also be banned to conduct commercial activities and to have more than one salary within the administration.

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Second women's international forum meets Nov 3-8 in Casablanca.11/1/99

The Bouregreg Association organizes Nov 3-8 in Casablanca the second Women's International Forum on the promotion of women's contribution to economic development. The event, staged in collaboration with several associations and firms, will define new opportunities for women as major partners of economic development and back women's entrepreneurship and valorization of women's jobs in city and rural areas. Panels, workshops and an interactive exhibition will be held thanks to the support of the European Commission, the World Bank, UN bodies and other institutions working in the development sector.

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Morocco will host 2003 World Youth Congress. 11/1/99

Morocco was unanimously selected Friday to play host to the 2003 World Youth Congress (WYC) by participants to WYC for the millennium, which wound up works in Hawaii. The head of the Moroccan delegation, Driss Guerraoui, said the kingdom will spare no effort to make of the congress of the new millennium the one of peace, democracy, human rights, lasting development, solidarity and tolerance.  Twenty youths and a seven-member staff represented the kingdom in this event, which was attended by more than a hundred countries.

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Morocco Gets $ 7.6 million Loan from Islamic Bank.

The Islamic Development Bank has extended Morocco a $ 7.6 million-loan to support the construction of roads in the Moroccan northern Rif mountains.  The project to build four 130-km long road stretches means to alleviate poverty and break the isolation of some of these regions. The Jeddah-based IDB is contributing 77% to the project. The loan is to be paid back in 20 years with a 5-year grace period.

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France to Swap New Amount of Moroccan Debt, French Ambassador .

French ambassador in Morocco, Michel de Bonnecorse, announced in an interview with a Moroccan daily that a new amount of Moroccan debts owed to France will be swapped during the annual meeting, November 4-5, of the two countries' prime ministers. According to the French diplomat, since 1996, France has handled 49 billion French Francs of Moroccan debts, including 400 million which were written off, 2 billions swapped in investments and 2.5 billion of the most expensive debts which were refinanced by the French Development Agency. He added that as the debt-swapping operation succeeded, France has talked its partners at the Paris creditors club into raising from 20 to 30% the share of debts eligible to swapping. Spain has already followed suit with two operations covering $ 86 million, Italy and other countries getting ready to do the same.

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Ministerial Commission Approves $ 215 million-worth Investment Projects.

The inter-ministerial investments commission, chaired by prime minister Abderrahmane Youssoufi, approved last week $ 215 million-worth investment projects expected to generate around 2,400 permanent jobs.  Two projects, involving a $ 105 million investment will be carried out in tourism (1,800 new jobs). Two other convention projects on a $ 110 million investment in metallurgy, supposed to create 600 jobs were approved under the reservation of amendments.

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Morocco, UNDP Sign Memo Of Understanding on Poverty.

Cooperation Secretary of State Aicha Belarbi and UNDP resident representative and UN system coordinator Bouna Semou Diouf signed here Monday a memorandum of understanding meant to mobilize resources for the poorest layers of the Moroccan populations. The two-year memo will raise donations and funds to back the government policy in its struggle against poverty, a priority undertaking for both, Morocco and UNDP.

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Morocco Calls For US Debt Swap .

Cooperation Secretary of State Aicha Belarbi called Monday the United States to swap Moroccan debt to investments in a similar move to those already initiated by France, Spain and Italy. Meeting members of the American Private Investors Institute, Belarbi underscored incentives and opportunities provided by Morocco for foreign investors and expanding prospects for neighboring markets. She also explained major reforms meant to attract more foreign firms as a key factor in lasting development and hailed increasing economic cooperation between the kingdom and the United States.

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Ethical values in public life tops government concerns, Youssoufi says. 11/1/99

The consolidation of ethics in public life is on top of the government's mconcerns, Moroccan Prime Minister Abderrahmane Youssoufi said.  The government, which is aware of the adverse impacts of corruption on the development strategies, is endeavoring to devise a modern and general approach to moralize public life, Youssoufi said at a national colloquy on ethics in public administration. The approach takes into account the objective conditions behind the increase and propagation of the phenomenon and draws inspiration from regional and international experiences in matters of struggle against corruption.

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Morocco in Montreal tourism, travel exhibit. 11/1/99

Morocco takes part in the 11th International Tourism and Travel Exhibition of Montreal alongside a hundred participants from all over the world. The Moroccan aisle is very successful with visitors and operators alike with its Menara shape and craftsmen carving wood in a time-old manner before baffled watchers, and efforts of the Moroccan travel industry, attending in large numbers.


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