Following its independence and with mounting international pressure, Morocco implemented neoliberal policies over the past five decades at a high cost to Morocco’s human and social development.
Today, agriculture production represents 15% percent of the country’s GDP and the labor force participation is well below 50% percent, even if the unemployment rate hovers at 9.4%. While the World Bank praises Morocco for its ‘prudent and sound’ macroeconomic policies, growing inequality and poverty are ills yet to be confronted.
Unconditional faith to the private sector
In 1964, the premise of what would become a strong compact of authoritarian rule and neoliberal economic policies was established following a first austerity plan, which was put in place at the end of that year and shaped the structure of Morocco's economy for the next decade. From this time on, Morocco’s regime believed in the idea of ‘trickle down economics’, considering the wealthy as investors and reduce fiscal burden on them.
In the 1990’s, the State invested heavily in infrastructure and thus, meant to attract private capital. As such, public finances were used as a means to empower private ventures and the State lost all of its economic jewels to privatisation (Maroc Télécom, Régie des Tabacs, CIOR, SAMIR, BNDE, COTEF…). Following again the lead of international institutions, Morocco promoted the belief in public-private partnerships. Over the years, this has resulted in the creation of an economic elite that continues to benefit from these reforms and a highly liberalised market. The culmination of this era was reached when King Mohamed VI inherited the throne in 1999, and kept opening the national economy to foreign and local investors willing to dutifully serve the national economy, as well as to support Morocco's enforced outreach to foreign markets, mainly on the African continent.
The importance of economic media
Media was no exception to liberalization and the sector opened to private investments in 2002. Along with the development of neoliberal economic policies and its preferred treatment of the private sector, economics became a central issue in the public debate. As such, the economic and business-focused newspapers became a main channel to inform policy-makers and major economic players. In the field of the economy, the main print publications today are L’Economiste (7,73% of the total readership) from the Ecomedia group, Les Inspirations Ecos (1,21%) from Horizon Presse and La Vie Eco (0,94%) from La Vie Eco Presse.
However, for journalists working in that particular media sector, the information provided by the economic players is considered mostly incomplete and opaque. It is also considered that these publications are often making concessions to the economic lobbies, smoothing their tone. Often favoured by the State and the private sector, the economic media is therefore less exposed to legal proceedings than generalist publications. Over the years, this has greatly undermined the public’s confidence in this type of media.
The role of public funding and advertising
The State remains Morocco’s biggest media content producer through the funding of public TV channels and of the Moroccan Press Agency MAP. While this is not financially sound, it remains a political necessity. Since 2014, State funding has become an obligation. As such, every media outlet can apply for it.
With the transformation of the media sector and the rise of online media outlets, advertising remains the main source of funding for private media. But here again, there is no regulation for the attribution of advertising. As a consequence, some media outlets can suffer from advertising boycott when they are too critical.
- Looney, R. in Foreign Policy (2015). Morocco is running out of time. Accessed on 18th October 2017.
- Seddon, D. (1986). Riot and Rebellion: Political Responses to Economic Crisis in North Africa, Tunisia, Morocco and Sudan. Accessed on 18th October 2017.
- Friedman, Steven J., in CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania (2010). A Tale of Two Economic Developments: Tunisia and Morocco. Accessed on 18th October 2017/
- Munier, B. in Chroniques Economiques (1965). L'Economie Marocaine en 1964. Accessed on 22nd October 2017.
- Ait Mous F., in Economia (n.d). Médias économiques et construction de la citoyenneté au Maroc. Accessed on October 23rd, 2017.
- World Bank (2016).
- CIA World Factbook.