Moroccan prime minister underscores government's bold action to curb unemployment and poverty
Morocco, Economics, 1/19/2000
Moroccan Prime Minister Abderrahmane Youssoufi underscored Monday before the chamber of advisors (upper house of the parliament) the government's bold action to face rampant unemployment and social problems.
Youssoufi cited as part of his socialist-led coalition government action to curb unemployment and narrow social gaps the pioneer national colloquy on employment, with the participation of all concerned sides, and the government's efforts to implement the encounter's strategic orientations. He listed in this regard endeavors for a better management of the job market, the inception of a program to promote self-employment of university graduates in partnership with banking and counseling institutions, a program that gave birth to 2,000 projects, in addition to an ambitious training-integration program in association with the private sector which has benefited so far as many as 43,000 young persons and is targeting an additional annual 35,000 recipients.
He added that another action to perfect the training of university graduates who have been on the dole for more than a year has created 15 new specialties that match the job market requirements. In the same vein, debts owed by young entrepreneurs were rescheduled and the legal texts regulating the youth employment promotion fund were reconsidered.
The prime minister thanked enterprises, public institutions, banks and local councils for their support to national efforts to curb unemployment.
According to Youssoufi, these actions, in addition to the adoption of the five-year plan geared towards narrowing the gaps between regions and ensuring a fair distribution of wealth, have borne fruits. Actually, he went on, the government and the parliament have focused action on modernizing legal texts and institutions in a bid to upgrade economic competitiveness and performance.
The governmental policy, he went on, seeks to build confidence between the authorities and enterprises and set forth a new monetary policy guaranteeing lower interest rates. It also takes into account macroeconomic balances by reducing the budget deficit, managing external debt and fighting state money squandering. As a result, he said, foreign investments reached in 1999 $1.7 billion (17 billion DH) while the investment rate which did not exceed 4% in the period between 1993 and 1997 reached 15% in 1998-1999. A ministerial commission, he went, has approved a total of 10 conventions with international groups to start business mainly in Morocco's tourism which brought to Morocco by the end of October $6 billion.
The Prime Minister also announced that these positive results have led the government to switch back to normal fiscal year starting January 1, carry on the privatization process and concentrate future efforts on job-generating sectors.
Regarding the social situation, he announced that social dialogue between the government, employers and trade unions has entered a new stage leading to promising decisions by next month. He promised that he will personally see to the conclusion of a five-year renewable social pact based on the consolidation of the labor class basic rights and of corporate stability. Other social actions projected include a labor code to be submitted to the parliament, negotiations before next May between the government, professional organizations and trade unions on collective conventions and the creation of an economic and social council as an advisory body depending on the legislative branch.
The head of the government conceded that some new labor claims lodged during the latest social dialogue could not be met, albeit not illegitimate, but promised that all reasonable grievances will be addressed.
Youssoufi also stressed that the upgrading of Moroccan economy needs more democracy, a stable society and the supremacy of law as prerequisites to restoring human dignity and attracting national and foreign investments.
He said that since it took power 18 months ago, the government has been granting utmost importance to human rights, as illustrated by the launching of the settlement of forced disappearance and arbitrary detention cases, the creation by the king of an independent commission to compensate victims of these abuses, the end of layout for political reasons and the amendment of the code of public freedoms, and penal and electoral procedures.
Youssoufi pledged that the government will earmark this week all the funds needed for compensation of victims of forced disappearance and abusive detention.
Regarding the status of women in Morocco, he said women are on top of the government's concerns regarding employment, education, health, solidarity and gender equality. He said that the national plan for the integration of women in development is a project in harmony with the government's program and encourages national dialogue on the measures it proposes. He added that he entrusted a ministerial commission with deepening scrutiny of the plan and making proposals to enforce its contents, in harmony with Morocco's spiritual values and Islamic law while keeping in mind development of the Moroccan society.
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