Morocco sees 2012 GDP growth at around 5 pct   Leave a comment

RABAT (Reuters) – Morocco said it expects its energy-importing economy to grow by between 4.7 and 5.2 percent in 2012, near forecasts for 2011, on the assumption of an oil price 33 percent above the basis for this year’s budget.

In remarks carried by the official MAP news agency, Finance and Economy Minister Salaheddine Mezouar put at 2 percent the inflation forecast for next year, up from 1.4 percent forecast for 2011.

The 2012 outlook is based on an average oil price of $100 per barrel versus $75 for the 2011 budget. A country of 33 million people with no oil of its own, Morocco imported 5.24 million tonnes of crude in 2010, official data shows, and demand is growing by 6 percent annually.

The non-agricultural economy is expected to grow by between 5 and 5.5 percent in 2012, said Mezouar, noting that it clocked a 5.1 percent increase in the first half of 2011.

The minister did not disclose forecasts for agriculture’s growth or grains harvest, key in determining wheat import needs for a country that heavily subsidises food products and where 40 percent of the workforce works in farming.

The state expects the burden of food and energy subsidies to fall by almost 8 percent to 40 billion dirhams in 2012, compared to this year, Mezouar said.

The government raised subsidies to 43 billion dirhams from an initially budgeted 17 billion dirhams for 2011 as it sought to avert any spillover from revolts rocking the Arab region.

The push to calm street protests eroded Morocco’s public finances and raised concern over its ability to fund key projects at a time when it was struggling to cope with high oil and grain prices.

The minister did not disclose forecasts for next year’s budget deficit nor did he update the GDP growth forecast for 2011, initially set at 5 percent.

The central bank expects the budget deficit to rise to as high as 5 percent of gross domestic product in 2011 from the government’s initial 3.5 percent forecast.

In 2010, the budget deficit stood at 4.5 percent of GDP, or 35.1 billion dirhams.

The spending spree in 2011, coupled with the surge in energy and wheat prices, forced the government to sell assets that have so far netted 6 billion dirhams this year. For details see

.

The government can also net $1 billion this year from the revived plans to sell part of its 30 percent stake in Maroc Telecom

Protests in Morocco have not sparked revolts as in Yemen or Tunisia, partly because the government kept trade unions on side by agreeing to a multi-billion dollar wage hike in late-April.

Mezouar said the public wage bill is expected to increase to 95 billion dirhams in 2012 as a result of the agreement with the unions. He did not give a comparative figure but the 2011 budget put public wages forecast at 86 billion dirhams prior to the agreement.

Moroccan authorities however plan to cut other running costs of public administration by 10 percent and are stepping up efforts for better collection of tax and custom duties.

Source: af.reuters.com

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Posted August 15, 2011 by newworldconsulting in Uncategorized

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