Government by partnership

Prime Minister Abderrahman Youssoufi, leader of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces, USFP, outlines the priorities for good governance in Morocco

Issue 3, Volume 47, 1998

It is a fact that there is no lasting human, social and economic development without the effective and direct co-operation of the people concerned; there is no direct participation of people if their opportunities for freedom and initiative are not broadened and there is no freedom or initiative without a sense of citizenship and a well-developed sense of responsibility.

In Morocco over the last few years an impressive number of non-governmental organisations, NGOs, have sprung into being from the most diverse focuses of interest. They are freely pursuing the tasks they have set themselves. This is a perceptible change in our society which seems to us extremely encouraging. It bears witness to an undeniable consolidation in our country of democratic practices and institutions, of a broadening of the range of civil liberties and the universal concepts of the rule of law which we are constantly seeking to perfect. It is, too, the sign of a heightened maturity of increasingly large sections of our population who are building the structures and means which enable them to take responsibility for their essential day-to-day problems.

In many fields of endeavour - whether it be electrification or the provision of drinkable water in the countryside, or adult literacy, or the supply of small bank credits, or the building of rural roads, or the protection of our heritage, the safeguarding of eco-systems or help to the handicapped - civil society is, happily, increasingly present. And civil society is a necessary actor in human, social, economic and political development whose role cannot be gainsaid.

Such a development, however, positive as it is, cannot signify that the state retreats from its essential tasks. In our opinion the fundamental role of the state remains as a promoter of human and social development, as the corrector of social inequalities, as the guardian of our lands and a force to reduce regional disparities and most definitely as the guarantor of social cohesion.

The role of government would be limited if it were not backed up efficiently by non-governmental actors within civil society. The action of government and of NGOs are not mutually exclusive but on the contrary strengthen each other and bend their joint efforts towards economic well-being, the raising of the living standards of the largest number of people and the correction of the glaring human and social shortcomings from which our societies suffer.

On the eve of the 21st century at a moment when the world's social and economic systems are becoming every day more open and when the web of all sorts of interchange is tending towards globalisation, borne along by an unprecedented revolution in information technology and knowledge, economic competition among nations is more intense than ever before. This revolution is in the first instance due to economic forces in the private sector. It is manifesting itself more in the new industry and service sectors, telecommunications, the audio-visual world and communications in general.

In this context of greater openness and competition among economies, the role of states must necessarily change and adapt as the space devoted to private initiative, enterprise and creativity is extended.

Government must become an efficient partner for the private sector which is today the world over the principal player in economic competition among nations and the essential element in the creation of wealth and job opportunities.

But while the states work to free private initiative and creativity they must at the same time ensure that the fruit of economic growth benefits the greatest number. The cohesion of society is also a factor for economic growth and political stability and the first condition that will ensure their continuance.

Such is the spirit and essence of the great educational, social and economic projects started by the Moroccan government. These projects are founded on various bases.

A global environment must be put in place in the field of justice, regulations and institutions which must be favourable to private enterprise in order to free initiative, to effect a lasting rise in the level of productive investment and growth and enhance job opportunities. Shortcomings in the fabric of society must be corrected with reference to a `social solidarity contract' based on the fight against unemployment, poverty and social inequality and exclusion; the promotion of literacy and basic education; the improvement of basic health care; the reform of social protection and the encouragement of low-cost housing. Finally there must be a thoroughgoing reform of the education and training system so as to offer equality of opportunity to all citizens in terms of their access to knowledge and work and to raise the general level of training of the workforce and better prepare our country for the society of information and knowledge in the 21st century.

Among the great projects that we have launched in recent months is one which we are particularly keen on and which we intend to conduct with particular determination. It is one which is commonly known today as good governance.

We have put the reform of government and justice at the top of our priorities in the knowledge that no economy can perform well, no foreign investment can be attracted, and there will be no lasting social and human development without a modern and efficient administration which is accessible to all and working transparently. There must be a balanced and reformed judicial system too which works quickly and is at the service of citizens and social and economic development.

This is the sense of the good management pact that we are presenting in the context of a global reform of government and which in particular aims to improve service to the public, to establish higher and more transparent standards of public administration, to make better use of resources and to create a better relationship with citizens.

It is the very essence of the reform of justice that the government has speeded up and which aims to modernise, and make more honest and rehabilitate justice, while developing the judicial personnel involved, restoring the legitimate authority of the courts, regaining the confidence of those before the courts, fighting abuses and re-establishing the authority of the law and of the state.

Transparency is at the heart of a series of decrees and bills already adopted or about to be adopted, in particular the finance law, but also the conditions pertaining to the state's business activities and the bill which concerns the concession of the management of public services and the participation of the private sector in Moroccan infrastructure which the government is currently drawing up.




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