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Corruption rife in Morocco, Transparency International alleges

By Siham Ali for Magharebia in Rabat – 16/12/10

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Thirty-four per cent of Moroccans admit to having paid a bribe in the past 12 months, according to a recent study by Transparency International.

For its 2010 Global Corruption Barometer, released on December 9th, the Berlin-based organisation interviewed more than 91,500 people in 86 countries and territories. Nearly one thousand heads of household, including 483 women, participated in the survey.

Seventy-nine per cent of Moroccans interviewed felt that corruption had either increased over recent years or stagnated while 91.7% felt that ordinary citizens can play a positive role in countering the problem. Although Transparency noted great potential for the public to get involved in combating the graft, 38% said that they would not be inclined to speak out in cases of corruption.

The release of the report coincided with the first-ever meeting of the International Corruption Hunters Alliance (ICHA). The head of Morocco's Central Authority for the Prevention of Corruption (ICPC), Abdessalam Aboudrar, participated in the Washington gathering, which brought together more than 200 officials from 134 countries.

Despite government efforts to tackle the issue, graft remains rampant across Morocco, with even the government officials openly admitting the extent of the problem.

Selham M, who works in the building trade, had to pay a sum of money "under the table" to the adjudicating panel before being allowed to bid for a public contract.

"They told me I didn't have the necessary references. It left me completely stuck, because I needed to get my business going. I'm against corruption, but first we need to clean up the business world so that competition can take place on a transparent basis," he told Magharebia.

Kawter Benmehdi, a management assistant, said that sometimes, in order to receive paperwork on time, it is necessary to bribe minor officials, or face the prospect of hanging around, doing nothing for several days.

According to Transparency Maroc chief Azzeddine Akesby, the lack of legislation to protect members of the public discourages those who have witnessed or suffered corruption from reporting it.

At the Parliament plenary session on December 8th, majority and opposition MPs questioned Public Sector Modernisation Minister Mohamed Saad Alami about the problem.

Parliamentarian Mustapha Mohamed Ibrahimi considered that, despite recent anti-corruption measures, the reality of graft has not changed, and is seriously damaging the principles of competition and reducing the attractiveness of investment.

For his part, MP Lahbib Choubani said that the government had demonstrated its powerlessness in the face of this scourge, calling for top officials to open up their departments to full public scrutiny.

"Corruption has become culturally embedded in society, and we need public awareness campaigns to eradicate this evil," Representative Omar Hjira said, adding that even ordinary citizens should bear the blame since they are the ones who pay bribes.

Meanwhile, MP Abdelkader Tatou stressed the need to start by attacking large-scale corruption, which is the biggest danger, rather than focusing on minor officials who resort to bribes because they are poorly paid.

Alami said the government was determined to put an end to the problem, reminding that it had adopted a two-year plan in October, designed to prevent and combat corruption. The programme aims to raise moral standards among the public and introduce rules to guarantee transparency between the citizen and government, in financial management and public tenders as well as strengthen control mechanisms within the public administration.

"We shall put some concrete mechanisms in place to put an end to this problem," Alami pledged.

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  1. Anonymous thumb

    FATIH 2011-1-19

    In addition to this, this is an institutional problem and the state must fight it. We also need to work on the human side. It is citizens who pay bribes and encourage corruption.


  2. Anonymous thumb

    MORAD 2011-1-19

    There should be a controller in Morocco, a fight against plundering money of the people and fighting bribery. In this way Morocco will become a developed country.


  3. Anonymous thumb

    Essid 2010-12-19

    I am a bit disappointed with the definition of “corruption” that Transparency International gives. Transparency international tends to focus on illegal activities and the polls that the organisation conducts tend to lean towards this definition, asking about bribes and so on. But, the most devastating corruption is often times legal corruption or semi-legal corruption. For example, it is well in accordance with national and international law that businesses or associations of businesses lobby our government. Since money equals power, any intelligent politician who wishes to preserve his own position, agrees with the lobbyists and votes in favour of whatever policy the lobbyist likes. In exchange, the lobbyist rewards the politician for his services and the lobbyist himself also receives a large sum of money from company that hired him. Moreover, the company earns large profits thanks to these policies. But, the truth is that these policies never would have been adopted if the government truly represented the people instead of the interests of big businesses. Many people think that this sort of corruption is limited to the West, where there is actually a well-understood legal structure in which business may lobby the government. But, lobbying is international. For example, the IMF requires that borders be open to foreign agricultural goods for the country to be able to to receive an array of loans and grants. Our leaders adopt these policies and our farmers soon find themselves without work because they cannot compete with foreign, subsidised agriculture.


  4. Anonymous thumb

    BEN 2010-12-18

    The prosecutor should take up this investigation and call in those people who admitted to paying bribes to public officials. Anonymity cannot justify such an excuse. In its perception index and barometer, Transparency International does not take into consideration the political and social atmosphere in which its investigation takes place or that the unemployment of young people remains a serious national and international matter at the basis of this crisis. Corruption has become a political and unionised word, which we do not cease to use to ridicule the government in place. This government, charged with combatting the corruption, instead does publicity and in so doing propagates itself. But, this is the “petite corruption”! As for the big corruption, the industrial countries that lead the world with their finances do not yet entirely accept the necessary transparency in their financial circuits. Globalisation requires this, as does the mafia and co. and terrorism too. It money laundering through international commerce affects the economy’s legal circuit and attacks the political parties themselves. Transparency International should reinforce its investigations with investigations on tax fraud, which is parent to corruption. It should poll specialised judges, who do not have perception indexes, but who have evidence of perception, which is more credible. Ten eyewitnesses of a road accident do not perceive how the accident unfolded in the same way just like non-resident, Spanish experts who are sensitive to the issue and well fit to deal with it would not perceive corruption in Morocco the same. We can guess their responses. This is what changes perception into a subjective perception and influences the indices. In any case, a better indicator with a worse grade is a good investment indicator for juicy, accidental profits. Like if Transparency had asked X... via...


  5. Anonymous thumb

    Anonymous 2010-12-17

    Corruption, theft, begging, prostitution and AIDS thrive in Morocco, just like the arrogance and militarism of regime that covers its ears and pretends not to hear the Sahrawi people claim their freedom. But rights and justice will ultimately prevail. The Sahrawis know well that their resistance will succeed in the end, but they must show perseverance and patience.


  6. Anonymous thumb

    med 2010-12-16

    In addition, this is an institutional problem that the state must combat. We also need to work on the human side. The citizens are the ones paying the bribes and encouraging corruption.