Together with Mrs Francoise Clottes, Resident Representative of the World Bank in Morocco, Mr. Salaheddine Mezouar, Minister of Economy and Finance, signed Thursday, June 17th 2010, at his office, two agreements related to loan policy development for education and modernization of irrigated agriculture in the Oum Er Rbia basin as well as a guarantee agreement related to the second rural roads project.
During the ceremony, the Director of Road Funds and Mrs. Françoise Clottes signed the loan agreement concerning the second project of Rural Roads.
Mr. MEZOUAR emphasized the advantageous cooperative relations between the Kingdom of Morocco and the World Bank. He noted that these relations, which have been strengthened in recent years, make of this institution one of the major investors that support our country in its efforts to promote economic growth and fight against poverty. Concerning education development policy loan, which will benefit from $ 60 million, Mr. MEZOUAR reported that this project aims at improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the Moroccan educational system and effectively makes education compulsory till the age of 15. He also noted that education sector constitutes the government`s top priority and has been subject to major reforms, particularly through the establishment of the emergency plan 2009-2012.
As for the rural roads project, the Minister pointed out that these signing agreements support the implementation of the strategy currently pursued by the Government to facilitate access of rural population through practical roads and to promote the opening of the countryside. The loan for this project covers a total sum of $ 81.5 million granted by the World Bank to Road Fund to support the Government?s efforts to implement the second phase of the National Rural Roads Program (PNRR-II).
Regarding the project of modernizing the irrigated agriculture in the Oum Er Rbia basin with a loan of $ 70 million, the Minister noted that this project, which is part of Green Morocco`s Plan, is the first part of the National Irrigation Water Saving Programme in order to accelerate the pace of conversion to irrigation which is localized collectively or individually , including the large hydraulic perimeter of the Oum Er Rbia basin (Tadla, Haouz, Doukkala). He added that the aim of this project, which covers an area of 22,000 hectares and boasts a population of about 8,000 farmers, is to increase productivity and promote more sustainable irrigation water use so as to avoid the real water shortage in the future.
Furthermore, the Minister congratulated Mr. Francoise Clottes for being appointed as Acting Director of the Maghreb Department of the World Bank and praised her professional and human qualities, stressing in this regard, the efforts she made to strengthen partnership ties between Morocco and the World Bank.
In her speech, Mrs. Francoise Clottes stressed that the signing of these three loans demonstrates the World Bank`s commitment in programs that have an impact on improving the living conditions of citizens. The three projects, she added, will provide more widespread access, quality and sustainability of basic education, enhance rural access to roads in all seasons, and provide an efficient and durable water resources management.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Agriculture and Maritime Fishing, Mr. Aziz Akhannouch and the Deputy Prime Minister, in charge of Economic and General Affairs, Mr. Nizar Baraka, who attended this ceremony, welcomed the World Bank`s efforts to support structural projects which are of a paramount importance for Morocco.
Thereafter, Mr. MEZOUAR and Mrs. Clottes welcomed Morocco and the World Bank relations governed by a Strategic Framework of Partnership (CSP 2010-2013) which resulted, to date, in the World Bank`s Board of Directors approval for seven loan agreements totaling approximately 729 million dollars covering both reform programs and investment projects.
It is worth noting that these support programs are part of recent strategic partnership framework with Morocco (SPC 2010-2013), which major priorities are the reform of the education sector, the expanding access to rural transport and the optimization of water use. The aim of these reforms is to achieve three strategic objectives namely strengthening competitiveness, growth and jobs, improving services to citizens and ensuring sustainable development in a context of climate change.