Morocco plagued by corruption, new survey reveals
By Hassan Benmehdi for Magharebia in Casablanca – 10/02/09
At its thirteenth general meeting on February 1st in Rabat, Transparency Maroc (TM) commended the efforts of many public institutions and civil society in fighting corruption in Morocco, but still described it as not good enough.
Corruption remains deeply rooted, and the problem is only growing, according to the organisation.
"In fact, whilst the country maintained its score of 3.5 out of 10, which it obtained in 2007, under the Corruption Perceptions Index, it has, however, slipped from 72nd place to 80th," said Rachid Filali Meknassi, secretary-general of Transparency Maroc, upon presenting the 2008 report.
Filali Meknassi explained that endemic corruption continues to flourish, sheltered by "impunity maintained by public authorities".
The latest report from Transparency Maroc reached a similar conclusion concerning the Index of Corruption in Exporting Countries 2008, which included Morocco for the first time.
The observations in this area are alarming.
According to survey results, 46% of Moroccan businessmen questioned use corruption to facilitate or speed up administrative or customs procedures. These same people also acknowledge using contacts among their families and friends for the same purpose.
An anonymous businessman told Magharebia that he often has to resort to such practices, particularly when "faced with an archaic, bureaucratic administration and civil servants who are used to blackmail and care little about the public interest".
Some 33% of survey respondents use personal contacts to influence decisions on public calls for tender. These same business leaders, however, have critical views about the government’s actions in fighting corruption: 67% consider the steps taken to be very (or completely) ineffectual, 27% consider them effective, and barely 3% consider them very effective.
TM’s 2008 report also shows that the legal system remains mired in corruption. It comes out top of the list of corrupt state institutions, with a score of 3.6 out of 5, followed by the police (3.4), the offices issuing permits and authorisations (3.1), and health services (3).
These are the same state bodies which were found most wanting by the Global Corruption Barometer in 2006.
Transparency Maroc deplored the fact that, despite some modernisation efforts by government ministries, little progress has been achieved.
During the general meeting, Transparency Maroc presented current and future projects, particularly the monitoring and documentation work carried out by the National Corruption Observatory and the launch of the Citizens’ Action and Judicial Assistance Centre, intended to provide assistance and advice to victims of corruption.
"The fact that this gangrene has taken such a hold shows that there is something deeply wrong with the mechanisms for nominating and appointing uniformed individuals or members of the public with electoral mandates," said Nouvelle Tribune editorial writer Fahd Yata, who has been following the involvement to date of over 100 state and elected officials in cases of corruption or abuse of power.
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