|06RABAT1652||2006-09-06 17:38:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Embassy Rabat|
1. (SBU) Summary: Prime Minister Driss Jettou told Staffdel
Bixby in an August 30 meeting that Morocco deeply appreciates
the United States' decision to enlist in aiding its economic
development through the Millennium Challenge Account," and
that it is essential that "America help Morocco succeed."
Failure, he argued, would be a "catastrophe" that would
embolden America's enemies. Jettou reviewed Morocco's
ongoing political and economic reform efforts and expressed
appreciation for the work MCC has devoted to preparing the
Moroccan proposal for submission to its Board of Directors.
Though the work has taken time, he said, "we recognize that
the proposal is much improved, and have benefited from the
process." He stressed that Morocco's experience has shown
that development projects must be targeted at vulnerable
populations; simply aiding growth is not enough, as it often
does not "reach the poorest." Staffdel leader Melanie Bixby
expressed appreciation for the Government of Morocco's
assistance in organizing the delegation's oversight visit,
and noted that while it would be following up on some
specific points, it was very impressed with the work that has
gone into preparing the Moroccan proposal. End Summary.
2. (SBU) The Wednesday, August 30 meeting came at the close
of Staffdel's five day oversight visit to review MCC
activities in Morocco. In addition to a formal presentation
of the proposal by the Moroccan team leaders, the delegation
met with Ambassador, other Embassy officials, and MCC
officials, as well as with representatives of
non-governmental organizations and donors. Outside Rabat,
the delegation visited a range of projects that reflect the
planned components of Morocco's proposal, including a
facility for artisanal fishermen on the coast south of Safi,
artisanal and micro-credit projects in Marrakech, and
agricultural projects in rural provinces outside Marrakech.
3. (SBU) In opening the meeting, Jettou, who was accompanied
by Moroccan MCA Team leader Mohamed Chafiki, stressed the
strong relationship between the United States and Morocco,
from Morocco's early recognition of the U.S. to its current
support for America's efforts against terrorism. He
expressed appreciation for America's enlistment in supporting
Morocco's development initiatives through MCA, and briefly
reviewed the range of political and economic reforms that the
Moroccan government has pursued in recent years. Those
reforms, he emphasized, aim at enhancing citizens' rights and
economic well-being, as well as ensuring their participation,
something that MCC's own emphasis on consultation of
concerned populations has contributed to. He noted it is
Morocco's experience that simply raising economic growth or
creating infrastructure is not sufficient to reduce poverty.
Five years of five percent growth, he said, has not been
enough to reach vulnerable populations. Instead, projects
must be specifically targeted at the poorest segments of the
population, something that he believes the MCC proposal
succeeds in doing.
4. (SBU) In closing, Jettou argued emotionally that the
United States must "be at Morocco's side and help ensure that
it succeeds." "We made the right choice," he said, in
allying with you, and it is "essential that those who are
with the United States succeed and be seen to succeed." The
alternative, he argued, would be a "catastrophe."
5. (SBU) Staffdel members outlined their responsibilities for
oversight of MCC activities to ensure both that Congress'
wishes are respected and that taxpayer money is well spent.
They noted that while they may have specific follow-up
questions, they had been impressed with the overall proposal
and particularly appreciated the way in which it focused on
specific economic activities for impoverished populations,
rather than large infrastructure projects, which enable money
to be spent quickly but may have a less direct impact on
poorer communities unless deliberate efforts are made to link
them in. Jettou noted that it has taken time to get
Morocco's proposal ready for the MCC Board, but that Morocco
recognizes that the proposal has been significantly improved
through the process.
6. (SBU) Ambassador noted that Staffdel's presence was a
signal of the importance that the U.S. and the Congress in
particular attach to Morocco. He expressed appreciation for
the Prime Minister's own contribution to the elaboration of
the project, and added that while the infrastructure
investments the GOM has made in the past may not yet have
paid off in improved income for the poorest Moroccans, they
have established a base on which other such projects can
7. (SBU) Comment: Jettou made clear his deep commitment to
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the MCC project, and his hope that it be finalized in the
near future. When informed this would not be possible by the
end of the year, he was clearly somewhat disappointed, but
hoped that next spring would be possible. End Comment.
8. (U) This cable was cleared by Staffdel Bixby.
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