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05RABAT1108 2005-05-26 13:47:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Rabat
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1. Summary: Reinforcing the Government of Morocco's
(GOM's) commitment to education and literacy, housing, and
health care, on May 23, Prime Minister Driss Jettou outlined
his government's priorities and themes for social and
economic development in the coming months. End summary.

2. Following on King Mohammed VI's May 19 speech calling
for a national economic development plan, Prime Minister
Jettou on May 23 outlined the government's economic strategy
to upgrade the economy, improving Morocco's "modest" human
development index scores. Jettou catalogued the GOM's
legislative and budget priorities and agenda for the rest of

2005. In addition to echoing earlier social and economic
themes such as housing, education and literacy, health care,
and job creation, Jettou also discussed social programs
targeting sports, culture, and youth. Jettou said that 51
percent of the general budget would be allocated to social

3. Citing Morocco's woeful development figures - including
40 percent illiteracy, 40 per 1000 infant mortality, and
over two million children not receiving basic education,
Jettou pledged to redouble government efforts to "upgrade
the economy." Hoping to eradicate illiteracy by 2015, the
Jettou goverment will continue to increase enrollment in
literacy training. In 2003-2004, the number of
beneficiaries more than doubled from 200 thousand to 450
thousand, according to Jettou. A national charter for
education will modernize programs, methods, and materials
(including textbooks) and develop effective new pedagogical

4. The government will address a 1.2 million unit housing
shortage for low income families through an ambitious
construction plan that promises an additional 100 thousand
homes per year. The Prime Minister also underscored the
GOM's "Slum-free Cities" program, an ambitious USD 2 billion
initiative that targets 212 thousand families in 70 cities
and aims to eradicate unsuitable housing by 2010.

5. The Prime Minister said his government will implement a
compulsory health insurance law that will increase private
and public sector coverage from five to 10.2 million
Moroccans (still far short of Morocco's 33 million
inhabitants). The GOM will continue to bolster the Health
Ministry's budget. That ministry received 10 percent annual
increases since 2002.

6. Jettou also addressed sports and culture. He introduced
new and existing programs including "sports for all" that
encourages healthy exercise, "Book time" to promote
literacy, and "Holidays for all." Jettou noted that the GOM
has allocated nearly USD 13 million to upgrade and support
such cultural activities.

7. Comment: Jettou's speech carried less punch than the
King's far reaching vision for national economic development
(reftel). The Prime Minister mostly reiterated old themes
in a "stay the course" lecture. Most of the figures he
provided were already public - the GOM is trying to remind
Moroccans of efforts already underway. However, in contrast
to Mohammed VI's large-scale and elaborate vision (reftel),
these remarks demonstrate the Prime Minister's and the GOM's
priorities for the short to medium term. Jettou's ambitious
and expensive plans for social and economic development also
coincide with recent news of lower than expected economic
growth predictions and higher than expected budget deficit
forecasts for 2005.