Maghreb Regional Highlights: Algeria Takes Additional Steps to Counter Corruption; Morocco Receives EU Funds to Counter Illegal Migration; Moroccan School Receives US Accreditation; and EBRD Announces Priorities in Tunisia – Jean R. AbiNader

Jean R. AbiNader
January 4, 2019

Jean R. AbiNader, Moroccan American Center

An analysis that appeared in Fikra Forum published by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), took up the sensitive issue of corruption in Algeria. The author noted that while the issue has been raised previously and commissions established, combatting corruption has taken on new urgency in the run-up to the elections in April. In a recent speech on behalf of President Bouteflika, there was fresh acknowledgement of the issue as the president warned that “bribery, nepotism, suffering, and iniquitous bureaucratic maneuvering—these ills have festered in the body of our society, and become crippling parasites.”

There have been some notable prosecutions in the past ten years and some have tied the recent pace of indictments to recent government restructuring so that “Concern has emerged over whether the recent anti-corruption campaign could become a means to ensure loyalty to Bouteflika in the wake of next year’s election. In other words, the anti-corruption campaign could become a method of removing all officials opposed to Bouteflika’s candidacy for a fifth term and exclusion of anyone seeking to succeed to the presidency, most notably Major-General Abdelghani Hamel.”

According to the author, “The majority of those who have been targeted so far are military leaders, excluding other sectors that have seen high levels of corruption such as businessmen, parliament members, and various officials at different levels of government. Furthermore, the majority of corruption cases have targeted smaller targets while ignoring the main perpetrators.” As in other Arab and African countries, corruption is seen as a critical threat to a country’s security, stability, and trust between citizens and the government as it undermines the fair provision of public services, inflates costs of infrastructure and government acquisitions, and creates challenges to equitable governance.

The article concludes that “corruption cannot be fought solely through law and legislation; it also requires a strong political will to uphold the rule of law by adopting the principle of separation of powers which includes an independent judiciary, a strong parliament, an independent press, improvement of the legal system, better oversight of the government, improved transparency and accountability, and an increased awareness about the true dangers of corruption.”

One aspect of the systemic nature of corruption was a recent announcement by the Algerian Finance Minister, Abderrahmane Raouia, that he is enlisting the cooperation of other ministers in undertaking a census of the wealth in the country so as to identify those who are avoiding paying their share of taxes. Although a previous attempt last year failed to gain traction, the ministry believes that it has secured the cooperation of the trade, labor, and industry ministries and the social security fund in the census project. The Minister is hoping to not only identify the wealthy but also their assets, income, social security contributions, consumption abroad, and other factors that demonstrate their wealth

This past month, the EU committed additional funding to support Morocco’s border security and to combat illegal trafficking, bringing its 2018 support to $167 million, according to Menas Associates, which represents some 25% of funds allocated to the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa’s North Africa programs. “New projects include: $124 million to help Morocco reinforce its borders and improve its border management system; and $9 million to improve its regional co-operation for border security. In addition, the EU has adopted a $206 million economic development package supporting Morocco’s decentralization program, $70 million for good governance projects, and $79 million for programs to economically target youth inclusions, private sector development, and rule of law reforms.”

The Menas Associates article noted “For the EU to combine announcements about border security assistance with economic development illustrates how closely linked it sees these two issues.”

The ESCA School of Management in Morocco has just announced its accreditation by the American organization, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. “The institute thus becomes the first in Morocco and especially in French-speaking Africa accredited by the prestigious organization that recognizes the academic excellence of its programs,” according to La Tribune Afrique.This puts the school in the company of just 5% of the world’s leading business schools.

Tunisia Receives EBRD support for 2018 – 2023 in the Bank’s most recent round of decisions. Key sectors include improving competitiveness of Tunisia companies by “opening markets and strengthening governance.” In its programs, “The EBRD country strategy also seeks to promote economic inclusion for women, young people and populations living in remote areas through private sector engagement and investment.”

The EBRD is committed to building the resilience of Tunisia’s financial sector, making it more accessible to SMEs, and supporting “the transition of this North African country to a green economy.” Since 2012, “the EBRD has injected over $922 million in 34 projects in Tunisia. To date, the Bank has also supported 670 small and medium-sized enterprises in the country with business advisory services, according to the announcement.”

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