The Moorish Wanderer

“Regional Solidarity”: Bums and Workaholics

Posted in Dismal Economics, Moroccan Politics & Economics, Morocco, Read & Heard by Zouhair ABH on September 10, 2012

Ever wonder how much of your taxpayer’s money went to other regions? Of course, if you are from Casablanca, or Agadir, you are entitled to ask if you are from Rabat on the other hand, not so much. Unfortunately however, some budgetary constraints prevent the curious inquirer to get the raw numbers from our administration. And so, I endeavour to crunch these available numbers together to get some idea of how things are computed.

Average regional GDP per Capita in these super-regions is 21% higher than nationwide GDP per Capita.

First, I start with the standard national accounting identity: Y=C+G+I+NX. (Output = Consumption +Government Spending + Investment + Net Exports)

In fact, I can even assume that equality is simplified to Y=C+G+I since most of our exports are concentrated on two seaports at the most (Casablanca alone attracts 42% of total export/import shipping ) and use data from the MINEFI paper on regional contributions to GDP, as well as an HCP survey from 2007. It is without much surprise that 5 regions concentrate about 60% of total GDP (Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech, Tangiers and Souss) and a little less than half of total population. We can also safely assume productivity per capita in these regions is significantly larger, paradoxically because their respective occupation level of active population would be lower.

Why would I need the national accounting identity to check which regions rely on government subsidies and transfers? Well, it is a matter of simple economics: a thriving region would not necessarily have a high regional GDP – Soussa Massa has a relatively low GDP per Capita, yet it is one of the richest regions in Morocco (4th richest not including Raba-Salé). What matters really is how their regional GDP is formed; a wealthy, productive region should produce its own consumption and pay relatively high taxes – or at least close to nationwide levels.

The following results are based on computations of aggregates per capita: there is a logical enough argument to be made that poorer regions might be over-populated; as it turned out, richer regions tend to have larger populations, they are however more productive, even more so, given the fact their active population is actually smaller, when compared to nationwide occupation rate of active population as well as those of the poorer regions. Per capita results take the demographics out of the equation, and even the odds somewhat.

The initial point made about wealthy regions stems from the standard national accounting equation: regional output is (roughly) consumed, taxes or invested. A good point can be made as to how local output matches local consumption, i.e. food and other goods consumed in one region are not necessarily made there; after all, sea-fish consumed in Marrakesh has to come from a coastal city, and Melons down South in Laayun need to come from another, cooler, watery place. Still and all, productive regions are able to produce enough output to buy them their consumption from other regions. Those too poor to afford anything will have to rely on government subsidies, or else reduce their consumption to subsistence levels. six regions emerge in this case: the Southern provinces, Tadla-Azilal and Taza-Alhuceimas. Their cumulative contribution to total GDP is less than 10%, and their average GDP per capita is roughly that of Souss-Massa.

Taxes and Government spending however are a different place; government money levied from or spent on a region stays there. Unfortunately, we do not have the exact amount of government spendings per region, though the other side of the equation is out there: there is evidence about how much each region contributes to total fiscal receipts; As it turns out, the 5 super-regions contribute about 91.5% of 2011 fiscal receipts, about 138.2Bn that is. So the initial body of evidence is there: the richest regions tend to pay more taxes than they produce output, and if Rabat-Salé is excluded from computations, the 4 super-regions account for 74% of fiscal receipts, versus a little less than half of total GDP. In simple arithmetic, every 100 dirhams these 4 regions paid 19.1 of it in taxes, and these were transferred to other regions.

What is the difference between the South and the two other poorest regions? These have less government spending with respect to their respective regional GDP

The figures at hand are not gross taxes however; these have been netted with subsidies (our Compensation Fund) which makes computations even easier; indeed, national accounting equalities tend to assume perfect funding from taxes to pay for government expenditure. Poorer regions – in this case, the bums are the Southern provinces, Taza-Alhuceimas and Tadla-Azilal would share their output between consumption and government expenditure. This is precisely the case for Taza and Tadla, where Investment per Capita (and at a smaller extent, Net Exports) make up for less than 2% of GDP per Capita. These two regions, by the way, should have received a net 1.5Bn dirhams either as tax cuts, or direct government transfers. But they did not: the local population had to make do.

On the other hand, the Southern regions are a riddle when it comes to national accounting; its taxation is a record low, and the assumption behind national accounting does not stand. And that is so because the tax aggregate used for that matter was net of subsidies. Think of it as a reversed budget balance: G – T instead of T – G. One additional step would be to propose: T - (G_0 + G_s) where G_s is government subsidies expenditure. The balance is the net government transfer the region benefits from.

So what is the score? It is always difficult in view of the numerous shortcomings of proposed methods, but it is clear the remarkably high Southern GDP per capita (30,000 dirhams) which marks these regions as the third richest is solely due to large government transfers, in this case 7.2Bn dirhams in 2011 – .89% of GDP, 17.1% of subsidies dispatched to 3.5% of total population. The bums in this case, those who benefit from government transfers, are the Southern provinces.

Regional solidarity is an admirable principle, and should be encouraged at every level of government business. But it assumes transparency in these transfers, and some kind of economic logic to it. In this case, transparency is a vain word – let us not forget the assumptions behind all these computations are very formal, and that means reality might be a lot dimmer, i.e. actual transfers are higher. And the proposed newly redrawn regional boundaries will certainly not help.

The political ramifications of unequal and unjustified (from an economic point of view, anyway) government transfers from hard-working citizens to others will exacerbate resentment, and there is no doubt unscrupulous politicians will seize upon this if and when an electoral advantage would weigh in. Another way to look at it is instead to push for larger devolution; fiscal autonomy would then show how each region actually does in terms of economic performance, and a dedicated federal fund can then be set up to support those regions with structural difficulties, on the grounds of economic support, not back-room political strategies as it is now.

La Dette, Un Mécanisme Infernal

Posted in Dismal Economics, Moroccan Politics & Economics, Morocco, Read & Heard by Zouhair ABH on August 23, 2012

ou qui risque de l’être si on en ignore le développement.

D’une manière générale, un gouvernement finance son budget en levant des taxes diverses, et en empruntant auprès des banques et des particuliers; la Trésorerie Générale du Royaume, le guichetier du gouvernement pour ainsi dire, n’est pas une exception à la règle.

Au delà du côté religieux délicat de l’emprunt et du prix de son loyer, l’intérêt, la dette publique est une sorte d’emprunt sur le futur; en fait, elle peut même être assimilée à un impôt: il est encaissé sur des revenus futurs, et sera ensuite restitué lorsque le terme de cette dette arrive à échéance. Et plus cette période est allongée sur le temps, c’est-à-dire, plus la maturité des Obligations du Trésor est longue, plus l’Etat est confortable dans sa gestion de la dette.

Source: Bulletin mensuel de statistiques des finances publiques – Juillet 2012

Lorsqu’on examine les dernières données disponibles sur l’état des finances publiques, on note que 95% de la dette publique contractée auprès d’agents domestiques (donc dette intérieure) a une maturité supérieure à 2 ans. Observons par exemple, que les dettes à très court terme -celles de 39 à 44 jours- sont remboursées durant l’année.

Ce genre d’emprunt relève plus de la gestion du besoin de financement, et les montants impliqués sont généralement peu élevés; un indice utile pour jauger la solidité des finances publiques et d’observer le volume de ces emprunts à court terme, en absolu (comparés au total des souscriptions) ou progression temporelle. Par exemple, le Bulletin mensuel de Juillet 2005 démontre que, pour un stock initial de dette à court terme, la cadence de remboursement imposait une réduction du stock de la dette. En 2005 donc, la Trésorerie notait un désendettement des finances publiques, en tout cas pour le financement immédiat. De plus, ces maturités représentaient près de 9% du stock de la dette publique domestique.

En comparant les données actuelles à celles d’il y a 7 ans, on observe que si la part du financement immédiat a été réduite de moitié, la cadence de souscription et de remboursement a augmenté sensiblement, ce qui traduit une certaine tension sur la gestion quotidienne, et que les euphémismes employés dans le bulletin cachent peu. Alarmiste? non. Préoccupé? Toujours.

Préoccupé car l’identité comptable qui conditionne les équilibres budgétaires est potentiellement mise à mal dans ses trois termes. Faisant l’économie (huhu) d’une explication abstraite, la progression de la dette vient en complément de la différence obtenue entre les recettes fiscales et les dépenses, ces dernières englobant le service de la dette et les autres dépenses (investissements, traitement des fonctionnaires, dépenses de matériel, et le déficit aussi) avec:

D_{t+1} = (1+r_{t,D})D_t + G_t - F_t

D_{t+1} est le stock futur de la dette (dans notre case t+1 sera 2013) D_t est le stock actuel (2012), et F, G respectivement les recettes fiscales (Taxes) et les dépenses autre que le service de la dette (Gouvernement). le terme d’apparence complexe, r_{t,D} est le taux d’intérêt, qui est fonction du temps et surtout du stock de dette actuelle.

Considérez l’analogie suivante: vous êtes client chez une banque, et vous avez déjà contracté des crédits pour de l’électroménager, une voiture, et un crédit immobilier. Vous souhaitez contracter un nouveau crédit pour une résidence secondaire. L’intérêt que la banque vous demandera pour ce nouveau crédit (si octroyé) prendre en considération votre stock de dette chez l’établissement en question. De même, la durée de remboursement de ce prêt aura un impact distinct sur le taux du crédit envisagé.

D’apparence simple, cette égalité est cependant très utile à comprendre les contraintes de la politique budgétaire: un gouvernement peut facilement céder à la tentation d’augmenter ses dépenses, et pour s’affranchir de la décision souvent impopulaire de financer (intégralement ou partiellement) ces dépenses par de nouveaux impôts, préfère recourir à l’emprunt. Est-ce une mauvaise chose que d’emprunter? Pas toujours. Et pour le Maroc, cela n’avait pas beaucoup d’incidence dans les années avant 2008.

Lorsqu’une économie est en expansion, la liquidité disponible chez les banques et les particuliers tend à s’accroître. C’était le cas du Maroc entre le début de 2002 et 2009, et dans ce cas de figure, l’endettement domestique était une solution pertinente pour absorber une partie de cette liquidité, et une politique convenable pour éviter ainsi des hausses d’impôt. Depuis 2008 cependant, l’accroissement de l’agrégat M3 -la mesure large de cette liquidité- commença à marquer le pas. Le Trésor se trouvait ainsi en concurrence directe avec des entreprises privées pour financer leurs activités respectives. Ce cas de figure, où la dette publique confisque une liquidité rare à son profit, est généralement appelé l’effet d’éviction.

Jusqu’à présent, l’évolution du stock de dette ne semble pas avoir d’incidence sur le taux d’intérêt exigé par les agents disposant de liquidités qu’ils souhaitent placer dans des obligations publiques. Les données publiées chez Bank Al Maghrib permettent de calculer une augmentation modérée de moins d’un pourcentage de point entre 2011 et 2012, et nous sommes loin, très loin des taux observés durant les années 1990.

‘C’est grave Docteur?’ non. Mais ce sont les effets de faiblesses structurelles qui menacent la stabilité budgétaire, et partant, celles de l’économie en entier. Example: à marée haute, les rochers ne représentent pas de danger pour les navires cabotant sur les côtes. Lorsque le niveau de mer baisse, ces rochers, soudainement très réels et visibles, deviennent de véritables écueils dangereux pour la navigation. Ces dangers, pour le Budget et le Trésor sont nombreux: pour n’en citer qu’un seul, le système fiscal actuel est compliqué (pour un pays émergent supposé attirer les flux d’investissements) mû par une logique administrative (je dirais même, bureaucratique) qui ne récompense pas l’activité économique productive. De plus, l’adage traditionnel de ‘baisser les taux, élargir l’assiette’ est allègrement ignoré. Le prochain post listera quelques chiffres sur qui paie quoi dans ce pays.

A 5-year Austerity Package The Government Wouldn’t Dare Think About

Posted in Dismal Economics, Flash News, Moroccan Politics & Economics, Morocco, Read & Heard by Zouhair ABH on August 14, 2012

It is plain clear now we are headed toward the end of an expansionary cycle that dates back to late 1990s. Government stimulus cannot do much about it, and we have to bite the bullet. Not only that, but the “if it ain’t broken don’t fix it” policy about Morocco’s structural problems has taken us down the dark path of debt. Austerity, as I have mentioned before several times, is necessary to pre-empt any draconian conditions if we ever fall short.

From BKAM annual report, 2011. The Compensation Fund has reached historical levels, and threatens more than just budget balances.

The austerity package, like all austerity packages -but unlike the present course of action down here- involves both sides of the balance sheet: revenue enhancement as well as expenditure. The single biggest budget problem, I would argue, has a lot to do with the subsidies: in the name of stabilising prices (and preventing social unrest) the Compensation Fund exploded in absolute and relative terms, to threatening levels to the budget and foreign trade.

Taxes: Close Loopholes, Simplify the Tax Code, Broaden the Tax Base

In effect, these principles call for a radical re-alignment of tax sources: the treasury relies too much in indirect taxes, stamp duties and other discretionary revenues, which either denotes of an institutional weakness to extract taxes where it needs to, or chooses to pick easy targets (read: the middle class) rather than confront powerful special interests. From a personal point of view, I can hardly find economic (and quantitative) argument behind allowing farmers and real-estate developers generous tax breaks, and even subsidies even as their profits are going sky-high.

This is an opportunity to assert an economic-oriented fiscal policy, instead of the daunting pile of bureaucratic regulations, with no economic justification whatsoever: why would we make individuals pays VAT on some of their subsidized consumption? And why would we keep the arcane progressive taxation system (designed some 150 years ago when Teddy Roosevelt was President) when we have much more sophisticated (and simpler) taxation systems? Not to mention the chaotic fiscal structure: the academic body of evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of keeping the overall fiscal pressure constant over time, and it clearly isn’t.

a little more than 40% of total major taxes come from consumption. Guess why the Government cannot commit to a serious subsidies reform?

Let us look like at the numbers: the total fiscal receipts for the 2012 Budget is expected to be 170.67Bn MAD: that’s the total amount of taxes expected to be collected from VAT, Corporate Tax, Income Tax, Customs and miscellaneous stamp duties. To give you an idea of how much that broad measure of fiscal pressure, think of it as the Government’s share in every good and service produced in this country, and that is GDP: 21.2% of it goes into the pockets of government – and that is not enough. They borrow money too, but that’s another question. Incidentally, you can find the best evidence explaining why the past governments and the current one cannot commit to a serious reform on the subsidies system: about 40% of the main taxes come from consumption, that is a third of total fiscal receipts. this mainly VAT-funded receipt has a perverse link to the subsidies: the higher consumers buy subsidized goods, the higher VAT receipts are going to be, and the better the treasury will feel about its primary balance. A defiant reform  of the Compensation Fund would mean the instant denial of a lucrative resource to the budget.

Obviously, there is nothing wrong with the existence of a government funding itself through taxation – for those interested in the theoretical argument behind it, there are some papers worth looking into (don’t get sidetracked by the Maths, the conclusions are rocking) but, the present structure is flawed: 14.35% of these fiscal receipts are coming from discretionary taxes. So the main course is the so-called distortionary taxes, i.e. those who affect the behaviour of all agents, consumers or businesses: VAT, Corporate and Income Taxes. The optimal fiscal policy is actually far simpler than the arcane tax code we currently have: we first look at the contributions of each aggregate component to GDP, then produce at a long-term rate the respective average rates for labour, taxes and consumption; We know for instance that Capital relative contribution to wealth creation (that is, GDP) ranges between 33.5% and 32.7%, while that of Labour captures the remaining to 67% to 66.5% (the odd discrepancies, around 0.16% is left to technological progress) – assuming a long-term average maximum fiscal pressure of 19.2%, total primary fiscal receipts should be around 151Bn dirhams (against the current 123Bn for the 2012 Budget) with Consumption and Income Tax accounting for 96Bn and Corporate/Capital tax for the remaining 54Bn. These are moderate tax increases considering the present levels, but then again, the effective tax rate on the capital stock is less than 2.6%, and total taxes on the labour force around 11% (consumption and production). Why so? First, these discrepancies belie the unequal distribution in both income and consumption, and second, Morocco is a developing country, so the effect of taxation on low capital stock per capita (181,759dhs) can hamper growth. Note that I referred to the capital stock, and not its distributed dividend. Taxes on labour and consumption are further split into respective 48Bn – an effective tax rate per household of 7% (recall the pure income tax from an earlier post) and 11% per household consumption (that new consumption rate I might post something about).

Based on a pessimistic 4.3% annual growth (average growth since 1999) all the way up to 2022, this should be the expected level of fiscal receipts from the proposed tax system.

All in all, without boring you with the details, this fiscal revamping should be a net tax cut of 12Bn, down from 171Bn to 159Bn(we make room for various discretionary taxes worth 1% of GDP) what is more, the broader definition of fiscal pressure is brought down below 20% of GDP, the closest I can get to the Hauser ceiling.

These computations are based on the aggregate number of households, including the agricultural sector – this reform effectively ends the subsidy where fewer than 15% wealthy farmers benefit from a tax break on potentially as much as 90Bn worth of agricultural products. In the process, fiscal equality rewards other sectors and agents by cutting their taxes and/or simplifying them. Finally, I would like to point out these figures are computed on the basis of a 4.3% annual GDP growth with historical volatility, which means the uncertainty factor has already been taken into account.

Expenditure: Freeze, Cuts and Postponements

This is always the least popular item in the austerity package (as if austerity wasn’t already a killjoy), especially when there are talks of cuts to public service pay-wage and related items. And if any serious fiscal consolidation were to take place, it will do something about the 94Bn expenditure on human resources, especially the higher echelon.

Though cutting expenditure is not on the table, it would be interesting to see how a freeze on half the civil service – and a 2% annual increase for the lower echelon. Let us not forget that for the last couple of years, the average annual salary was 192.000dhs per annum, i.e. 65% more than the average annual income per household, and about 3 times more than the median income per household. If anything, the average income where at least one breadwinner is working with the civil service could be earning more than 83% of all the households in Morocco. Fairness dictates some of these civil servants need to see their taxpayer-funded salaries trimmed a bit.

The other juggernaut is the Compensation Fund: never, since the early 1980s, has household consumption been so heavily subsidized, and yet the large gap in consumption and standard of living creeps in, stronger than ever. A complete overhaul of the fund will have an initial negative effect on household consumption, but then again, it should not last no less than 10 quarters (based on domestic exogenous shocks) or 15 quarters if exogenous effects from foreign trade are taken into account; this means any unpopular reform needs to be undertaken at the very first year, until the negative effects eventually die away before election season. My plan subsidizes about 20% of the median consumption basket to the benefit of 60% Moroccan households, costs in 2012 about 25Bn and is indexed to household consumption growth. The poorest 10% receive an annual cash relief between 7,200 and 9,500 dirhams. Incidentally, it cuts subsidies twice its current budget and insures strategy-proof allocation of subsidies to those who genuinely need it, and does not harm middle class standards of living.

The Debt, Rates and PSBR

This whole austerity problem is not out there to serve a sinister right-wing dogma: our fiscal house was quite in order for the past decade, and yet we did not bother to push for continuous reforms; instead, the past government chose an unnecessary large tax cut (from 4 to 7Bn in 2007-2008) to the wealthiest while nothing was done to close loopholes and tax breaks for the privileged few. Obviously, these tax cuts and preferential treatment were funded by increasing public service borrowings: it went from 51Bn in 2007, to 65.7Bn in 2012, and that number can be expected to increase even further.

What the government fails to understand -and so would Paleo-Keynesians in the process- is that public borrowings are crowding out small businesses and individuals; this is even more perverse as these small companies in business with public service procurements are punished twice: the budget pays at later terms, and takes away the existing liquidities from M3. Big business is secured in its day-to-day financing; it is the small guy who takes the fall for the growing public debt.

Accordingly, there is a need to introduce a ‘debt ceiling’ mechanism, where over-borrowing is subject to a floor vote in Parliament, and conditioned by commitment on behalf of ministerial departments to cut or freeze spending over the same period of time the newly issued debt matures; for instance, a 5-year treasury bond has to be matched with spending cuts/freezes whose effect is likely to last 5 years as well. In this particular example, The expected borrowings cannot go beyond 5% of M3, or 47Bn in 2012.

Bottom Line: What Will You Bring Us, Mr Moorish?

Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat. Well, almost. Unfortunately, making the deficit disappear while fighting government debt is mission impossible; if anything, there will be a large deficit in 2012 (about 7% of GDP) but that gradually disappears, with the first surplus reached by 2020. If anything, the effects of this 5-year austerity plan show around 2018, too late for the 2016 general elections. On the other hand the size of government relative to GDP would have shrunk from the current 44% to 25% by 2021, with all public services and welfare mechanisms in place. The deficit for 2012, projected to be 55Bn, would gradually go down until it reaches 20Bn surplus – or 12Bn if 8Bn dividends are not taken into account. We would however left by then the danger debt zone, with projected overall public debt ratio of 50% by mid 2014 to 2015, not to mention a robust 3% growth in public investment.

“The path Of Prosperity” vs “The Light at the End of the Tunnel”

If anything, the Moroccan economy would look at lot healthier by 2018: lighter, better and fairer government touch, lower tax burdens, lower rates and sustainable deficits and public debt. As always, any of these reform proposals assumes incredible courage among our elected officials, and a sheer willingness to take on special interest, lobbies and established rents. And most of all, an unwavering sense of social justice, because fiscal consolidation, whatever its initial motive, tends to fall harder on the weak, and treat harshly the middle class.

Only a keen interest in keeping suffering at the lowest possible level can bring about the broadest consensus around austerity; for this like so many other policies, a sense of purpose is needed, and carried by committed responsible politicians.

The Sideshow Consensus

Government to the Right of it, Opposition and Civil Society to the Left of it; into the valley of superficial debates rode the lonely real issues of the economy. Or perhaps it serves both parties well to focus their energy on the debate on executive oversight over the public media network. It suits the conservative government fine because economic news and the (rare) forecasts aren’t predicting rosy years ahead, and the opposition, scattered within and outside the institutions, is left to clinch on purely secondary, or narrowly defined interest-related issues;

Anything to get the public distracted.

Don’t get me wrong, human right abuses and predatory behaviour from high up are not to be disparaged, and even the Football stuff going around is worthy of consideration – although I cannot recall an instance with an interest (even passion) as strong as that displayed whenever the FLP Derby were up. Colonial alienation, moi?

And yes, even the farcical (at this point) trial of #Feb20 figurehead rapper Mouad can be a noble cause to take up and fight for. But why is there so little attention devoted to the economic issues?

To the media’s defence, there were some pieces run in major newspapers about how the government’s coffers were replenished at a higher level compared to 2011. But these were just reports copied straight from official documents released by the Finance Ministry. No particularly insightful comments were made about the worsening state of public finances, the debt or the deficit. And what about the government’s bravado on the Compensation fund reform and their boast on how they’d curb economic special interests. No one to call the conservative PJD on their empty promises, but then again, parliamentary opposition is just as feckless as the ‘civil society’ platform’s vain interest in an agenda that ranks far behind pocketbook issues.

No one is calling Ministers Boulif, Azami, Baraka or even the Head of Government for their handling on their economy, and their bluff on how they can keep up with the Government’s pledge to restore a 5.5% average growth by 2016, or the subsidies allocated by the Compensation Fund. The opposition, notably Ahmed ‘Wonderboy’ Reda Chami writing a full (Facebook) post denouncing the Communications Ministry’s handling of public media, instead of doing a meaningful job at the Budget and Finances committee.

L’Etrange Budget 2012: quand les impôts ne suffisent plus plus à payer le train de vie de l’Etat

Posted in Dismal Economics, Flash News, Moroccan Politics & Economics, Morocco by Zouhair ABH on March 19, 2012

La montagne a grondé, et a accouché d’une souris. En examinant de plus près les documents du PLF 2012, le Budget proposé par la nouvelle coalition gouvernementale dirigée par Abdelilah Benkirane a été dépensier, et surtout, trahit un décalage important entre la rhétorique enflammée des ministres PJD quant à la lutte contre le gaspillage et le détournement des deniers publics, et l’explosion de ces même dépenses. Pire, le prix à payer pour acheter la paix sociale a été sous-estimé, sur tous les horizons temporels. La question que je me pose est donc la suivante: comment ce gouvernement saura-t-il confronter les décisions douloureuses de consolidation fiscale qui se poseront plus tard, alors même qu’il recule devant une restriction plus modérée des dépenses à son premier budget?

Ce que le populisme moralisateur nous promet.

Le ministre du Budget, M Driss Azami Idrissi déclarait devant le Parlement le 16 Mars dernier:

لقد تمت صياغة مشروع قانون المالية لسنة 2012 في بعده المالي على أساس حصر مستوى العجز في 5 بالمائة مقابل 6.1 بالمائة سنة 2011، وذلك في سياق تنفيذ إلتزامات البرنامج الحكومي بخصوص العمل على الرجوع التدريجي لنسبة عجز الميزانية في حدود 3 بالمائة من الناتج الداخلي الخام في أفق 2016

Nous pouvons donc déduire, sans risque de nous tromper, que le déficit moyen que ce gouvernement inscrira dans les prochaines Lois de Finances d’ici 2016 sera certainement supérieur à 3%, et donc supérieur à la moyenne observée depuis vingt ans (avec ou sans les recettes de privatisations encaissées). De plus, cette projection contredit l’engagement du parti chef de coalition de réaliser un déficit moyen de 3% d’ici 2016. Dans le premier cas, nous avons un objectif de 3% d’ici la fin de la législature – et donc une moyenne supérieure à 3%- et dans le second cas, une promesse de réaliser une moyenne de 3%, et donc des chiffres de déficit bien inférieurs à ce que le gouvernement s’engage à atteindre.

Il s’agit d’être très prudent quant à la question des déficits: tôt au tard le gouvernement sera obligé de les payer, et cela signifie une augmentation des impôts ou une baisse de dépenses; et le risque ici est que le déficit sera tellement important, que les réductions de dépenses, et les augmentations d’impôts toucheront une grande partie des ménages et entreprises marocains. Et dans ce cas précisément, le déficit annoncé dans le nouveau PLF 2012 a atteint 32 Milliards dhs, 35 Milliards lorsque les recettes de privatisations de sont pas prises en considération.

A noter que le déficit n’est pas le seul problème: le solde primaire se chiffre à +68 Milliards de dirhams. A première vue, c’est une bonne nouvelle; cependant, le solde primaire inscrit au Budget 2011 se chiffrait à 74 Milliards; plus préoccupant encore, le solde primaire réel -c’est-à-dire sans prendre en considération les recettes d’emprunt- se chiffre à  un déficit de 900 Millions dhs. Les recettes fiscales seules ne suffisent pas (plus) à payer les salaires des fonctionnaires, les factures d’électricité et de gasoil, les stylos et papiers utilisés par l’administration. En clair, les recettes ordinaires ne suffisent plus à payer le fonctionnement normal du gouvernement. Nous constatons là un échec patent dans le fonctionnement de l’administration; alors que les recettes fiscales sont supposées d’abord servir une certaine politique de redistribution, voilà qu’elles ne sont même pas suffisantes à couvrir le fonctionnement administratif de la machine bureaucratique.

Pour un gouvernement qui prétend combattre le gaspillage des dépenses publiques, il est extraordinaire de noter une augmentation annuelle de 23.5%, dont 8% dans les dépenses de matériel. Les économies promises par le Ministre de l’Enseignement Supérieur, Mr Lahcen Daoudi, de l’ordre de 5 Millions de dirhams dans son département, se sont transformées en augmentation des dépenses de l’ordre de 3 Milliards dhs.

Il a fallu prévoir un emprunt s’élevant jusqu’à 65 Milliards, dont 20 Milliards qui seront levés à l’international – et vraisemblablement payés à un taux d’au moins 6% (considérant les rendements exigés sur l’Euro-obligation émise par le Ministère des Finances en 2010) la crise des années 1980 a commencé ainsi: des emprunts régulier et croissants, le prix que ce gouvernement est prêt à payer pour obtenir la paix sociale, semble-t-il, a été mal calculé: la justification officielle du déséquilibre est, nous disent les ministres du MINEFI, le financement de la Caisse de Compensation. Mais alors, où est la réforme tant promise? Et surtout, où est la justification quantitative à pomper 40 Milliards du budget (soit 12% du Budget, 5.4% du PIB) les redistribuer aux plus riches, et au final se trouver avec un taux d’inflation de 2.5%, soit 0.7 points en dessus de la tendance observée durant la décennie passée, et surtout, plus du double du taux observé en 2011.

La composante PJD du gouvernement, si vivace lorsqu’il s’agit de dénoncer la corruption et la décadence morale gangrénant le Maroc, est remarquablement timide quant il s’agit de la plus grande injustice infligée à près de 6 Millions de familles marocaines: leur faire payer la consommation des 600,000 ménages les plus riches, leur faire subir une augmentation des prix, et hypothéquer l’avenir de leurs enfants avec une dette publique galopante.