Morocco’s Governance Reform Program: Strengthening Public Sector Performance and Encouraging Citizen Engagement

Fabian SEIDERER

Senior Public Sector Management Specialist, GGP, MENA, The World Bank

 

The government of Morocco launched a two-pronged governance reform program focused on the modernization of public financial management and open governance to improve the allocative and operational efficiency of scarce public resources and give its citizens a greater voice in the development process. The Governance Global Practice (GGP) Program in Morocco Hakama (Governance in Arabic) supports these efforts.  It aims at maximizing the window of opportunity for transformational reforms offered by the Arab Spring and the subsequent Constitution adopted in 2011. The World Bank-supported First Transparency and Accountability Development Policy Loan series and technical assistance program support the concretization of governance principles and rights introduced in the Constitution in response to citizen demand. It focuses on an integrated package of reforms to: (i) strengthen accountability and performance in the management of public resources and the delivery of public services, such as performance budgeting and procurement; and (ii) foster open governance and a more participatory democracy through new policies on citizen access to information, and public petitions and participation, which are also in line with the Bank’s strategic priorities.

Introducing performance -informed budgeting is seen as a lever to improve fiscal transparency and accountability, and to foster public sector performance. Public expenditures are high in Morocco, around 32 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013, including 5.6 percent GDP of public investment. Yet, questions remain on ways to increase the return on investment, enhance effectiveness of public services1, and increase transparency and accountability. Responding to these challenges, the government has engaged a broad public financial management reform aimed at improving transparency (both on the resources used and on the performance achieved).  The reforms also aim to increase managerial responsibility and accountability for results along the service delivery chain. This agenda is based on three structural and mutually reinforcing reforms:

·         introducing programmatic and performance-informed budgeting;

·         improving public procurement and value for money, including through public-private partnerships (PPPs); and

·         modernizing public financial controls toward more ex-post and risk-based controls.

These reforms are made possible by a first generation of public financial management (PFM) reforms, which have strengthened the basics. The reforms include the introduction of an integrated financial management system and an e-procurement system, a consolidation of ex-ante financial controls and a capacity assessment of all authorizing officers, as well as a comprehensive accounting reform. 

The GGP program supports the design and implementation of these second generation public financial management reforms through policy advice on the legal and regulatory framework (organic budget law, procurement decree, PPP law, and financial controls), and institutional strengthening, as well as substantial capacity building.

Results to date. A new organic budget law introducing a programmatic and performance oriented budget process has been submitted to the Parliament. Eight ministries2 are being supported in restructuring their budgets and in preparing their performance plans to be submitted to Parliament with their 2015 budget proposals. The new public procurement decree is effective as of January 1, 2014, and its implementation is being supported by the Bank through a comprehensive training of trainers program.  A PPP law has been prepared and is pending approval by Parliament. In the meantime, the implementing regulations are being developed in partnership with the Islamic Development Bank.

 

 

Figure 1: Morocco’s Integrated GGP Program

Enhance Accountability and Performance in the Management of

Public Resources through:

Foster Open Governance

through:

Supported by a Multidisciplinary Bank team with:

 

Performance budgeting

Procurement reform

Public-Private Partnership Framework

State-Owned Enterprise Governance

Local finance

 

Fiscal Transparency

Access to information (article 27)

Public consultations (article 14)

Public petitions (article 15)

E-Government services

 

An integrated Governance Global Practice Team (former PREM-PS, PROC, FM and WBI)

 

Private Sector Development/ International Finance Corporation (IFC)

Social Development -SDV

(social accountability)

Information and Communications Sector Unit (TWICT)

 

Source: World Bank.                  

More than 14 authorizing officers qualified for increased responsibility and lighter ex-ante financial controls, following a risk-based approach.

 

A new focus on open and citizen-centered governance. The value of public engagement is its capacity to strengthen social cohesion, improve government-citizen interactions and the quality of development policies. When successful, participation can have a transformative impact by providing citizens with a platform for engagement in the development process, and an ability to hold government to account.

The 2011 Constitution introduced new rights on public engagement, including the right of citizens to petition public bodies, present legislative motions to Parliament, and obtain access to public sector information— all of which are currently being concretized through a legal framework. To date, the Bank has supported the design and consultation process on a law regarding access to information, an organic law on public petitions and legislative motions, as well as a draft policy on public consultations and an e-consultation platform.  These laws now need to be adopted and complemented by clear and simple procedures for their effective implementation. 

Citizen demands for participation remain strong as evidenced in a recent (April 2014) World Bank Nano-Survey, 3 assessing citizen perceptions regarding access to information and public engagement in Morocco. This Internet-based survey captured 15,000 responses, of which 71 percent demanded greater access to public sector information, with 26 percent even willing to pay for it. Likewise, the majority of respondents (58 percent) wanted to be more engaged, even as much as once a week, for the 47 percent of those who replied positively. The survey sheds light on expectations regarding new rights introduced by the constitution. It illustrates the disparities in public awareness, as well as challenges to accessing information and to engaging effectively.

The internet is the preferred mode of interaction with the government for many citizens, including for public services. The program is also supporting the government’s e-government initiatives, such as Watiqa, through which more than 2,500 citizens could order their birth certificate online and receive it by registered mail. This would help to reduce transportation costs and the risk of corruption. This inter-ministerial collaborative platform can host many more online services to improve transparency and effectiveness in the delivery of public services. 

The GGP’s governance program in Morocco follows an integrated and holistic approach in order to maximize both internal and external synergies. It is integrated both in terms of the team and instruments used. This multi-disciplinary program is leveraging expertise from across the Bank and beyond to support Morocco's structural governance and service delivery reforms. The program is based on a multi-donor Development Policy Loan (DPL) series, with a first USD 200 million loan adopted by the World Bank Board on October 29, 2013. It has been prepared jointly with the European Union (EU) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), leveraging a further US$ 250 million. The DPL is complemented by a USD 4 million technical assistance grant financed by the Deauville Partnership’s Transition Fund, the MENA Multi-Donor Trust Fund, as well as 2 Institutional Development Fund (IDF) grants to support the procurement reform. It is holistic in the sense that it supports governance reforms across the public sector (central and local governments, as well as state-owned enterprises and agencies), and along the service delivery chain. It therefore offers important opportunities to strengthen the link between upstream cross-cutting governance reforms and sector-specific service delivery challenges down-stream. This is the thrust of the Bank’s Governance and Public Sector Management Strategy as well as the new Country Partnership Strategy (2014-2017) which support governance for improved service delivery and shared prosperity.  

GGP opportunities ahead.  Such a comprehensive governance program could only come to fruition thanks to an integrated GGP team in the country office and a close collaboration with the Macro and Fiscal Management and the Trade and Competitiveness Global Practices, which are part of the DPL team. The official launch of the GGP on July 1st, 2014 offers the opportunity to consolidate and formalize this informal country office GGP team and its integrated services to the client and other sectors/ GPs. The growing pipeline of Program for Results is generating a strong demand for integrated governance and fiduciary assessments.  Demand has also increased for implementation support from other GPs in order to achieve the new instrument’s institutional strengthening objectives and more sustainable results. Addressing this growing demand will require a deeper, country-level integration for an optimal allocation of scarce human and financial resources.

 

1 As evidenced in the landmark report on public sector governance by the Conseil Economic, Social et Environmental.

2 Ministries supported as of June 2014  include the: Departments of Economy  and Finance, Agriculture, Education, Water and Forestry, Transport and Equipment, Justice, Foreign Affairs, and Vocational Training.   . 3 The Nano-Survey is not representative of the entire population in Morocco. It is a random sample of internet users, targeting the web traffic of users who enter faulty URLs. The benefit of such an approach is that it ensures an entirely random sample of online participants. Nonetheless, the survey is limited only to online users, and does not represent a comprehensive sample group.