Speeches & Transcripts

Speech: World Bank Country Partneship Strategy with the Kingdom of Morocco

February 16, 2010

World Bank Country Partneship Strategy with the Kingdom of Morocco

Press Conference: 16 February, 2010


Dr. Shamshad Akhtar
Regional Vice-President
World Bank, Middle East and North Africa

Mister Minister,
Mister Secretary General,
Distinguished representatives of the Moroccan administration,
Dear Media participants,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me warmly welcome you all today to the launch of the World Bank’s Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) with the Kingdom of Morocco for 2010-2013.  It is a pleasure for me to be in Morocco for this occasion and I would like to thank Minister Baraka and all his colleagues in Government for their warm welcome to me and for the quality of the partnership between the World Bank Group and the Government.

I would like to take this opportunity to share with you my perspectives on the post-crisis direction both at global and national level and, within that context, the evolving role of the World Bank Group globally and of course here in Morocco.

The global landscape has changed dramatically over the past two years with development suffering setbacks and millions of people across the world pushed back into poverty.  In the post-crisis scene, the World Bank Group has been in a reflective mode and has been re-examining its vision and its strategy. Our emerging vision is to support an inclusive and sustainable globalization, to overcome poverty, and enhance growth with care for the environment.  To meet this challenge, our priority areas will be more strategic engagement, reforming our business model and improving governance, transparency, voice and participation.

Fortunately, there are signs that the most acute phase of the global economic crisis is behind us.  The World Bank’s 2010 Global Economic Prospects report estimates, however, that the crisis will change the landscape for growth and finance over the next ten years.  With the evolving changes in the landscape and development challenges, there is a greater need for global multilateral institutions to work towards finding effective development solutions that address global challenges.

Being a premier multilateral development institution with global membership, the World Bank Group is playing a key role in responding to the impacts of the global economic crisis and building the foundations for more equitable and sustained growth across all countries.

  • This is manifested by the doubling of lending – through IBRD and IDA - from $24.7 billion in FY08 to $46.9 billion in FY09, a net increase of $22.2 billion of which $19.4 billion was for IBRD countries.  For the MENA region, our lending levels are more than double the pre-crisis levels.
  • The World Bank Group will be redoubling efforts to meet the MDGs.  With only five years remaining before the deadline to reach the MDGs, there is an urgent need to intensify efforts to achieve these targets, especially poverty reduction and universal primary education.
  • Another new development challenge has emerged which is the need to foster multi-polar growth , respond to complex global interactions and anticipate new risks and unpredictable crises.  Supporting a multi-polar growth model in the future will require large investments in physical and human capital especially for middle-income countries for transportation, ICT, innovation and improving competitiveness.
  • As globalization deepens linkages among countries and across regions, the global public goods (GPG) arena presents unprecedented challenges that require global common actions.  Key challenges are the need to address consequences of climate change, improve the global trading system, strengthen the international financial architecture, address global public health issues, develop agriculture and food security and find win-win solutions to address water scarcity.
  • Dealing with these GPGs relies on global presence, experience and financial coordination.  The World Bank has developed a track record of leadership in many of these areas that have positioned us well to respond to the challenge in the future.

In all these areas – responding to the crisis, supporting a multi-polar growth model that promotes more inclusive and sustainable growth, accelerating efforts to meet the MDGs, and dealing with Global Public Goods – the World Bank is committed to bringing a combination of financing, knowledge and global expertise that is customized for individual country circumstances.

Turning to Morocco, it is important to recognize that the country did face the impact of the global crisis, although much less than many other countries have.  The economy has witnessed the moderate effect on government revenues, international trade, foreign direct investment, and workers’ remittances.  The appropriate policy response by the Government and Central Bank helped Morocco withstand the crisis and maintain confidence and take measures to stimulate domestic demand which together have helped revert to positive economic growth.  Aside from skillfully navigating the crisis, the government has identified critical actions that will build its next generation of growth.

These include creating a more competitive economy, developing an ambitious human development agenda especially as regards improving the quality of education, continuing the public administration reform program and strengthening governance at central and decentralized levels.  Morocco is also committed to greater regional integration which is a cornerstone for strengthening growth in the future, making the economy more competitive, and bringing about the needed infrastructure investments in energy, transport and ICT.

Despite the positive growth experience of the last decade, persistent constraints to competitiveness, productivity and export orientation prevent Morocco from reaching its full growth potential. To take just one example, in 2008, three quarters of manufacturing value-added and exports were of low technological intensity.

  • More sustained growth is central to solving the unemployment challenge, but such growth will necessitate a structural transformation of the Moroccan economy.  This means a comprehensive and coordinated set of policies that include

        - continued stable macro-economic management,

        - an improved business environment which is a pre-requisite for a more efficient private sector,

        - trade reforms to support the competitiveness of Moroccan products,

        - a financial sector that better serves individuals as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, and

        - a labor force that is better trained.
  • While progress has been made in all these areas, there is a strong need to increase the impact of reforms and the private sector response.  Rightly so, these areas have been identified by Government as key challenges and are being addressed in their strategies.

The over-riding challenge is to ensure effective implementation of policies and reforms, with a focus on development results that are equitable and lasting.  It is precisely this implementation challenge that lies at the heart of the World Bank’s program of support.  As illustrated by the CPS, the World Bank’s objective over the next four years is to support implementation of Morocco’s reform program through facilitating institutional reform, strengthening inter-agency coordination, building capacity at all levels and paying particular attention to increasing the results orientation of programs.

What is critical for the World Bank Group, as one of the country’s development partners, is to bring the highest value added through a combination of financing, knowledge and global best practice.  Our focus is not just on providing these services but on maintaining a high level of quality of the project portfolio.

It is this partnership, coupled with Morocco’s own considerable human capital, creativity and resources, which will allow us together to bring about the development outcomes that are needed.

Again, let me thank Minister Baraka and all of you attending today for your attention and for this opportunity to speak with you.