Rabat sets 4.5 per cent economic growth

06 December 2002

Privatisation receipts for 2003 are expected to reach MD 12,500 million ($1,177 million), Finance & Privatisation Minister Fathallah Oualalou announced in his presentation of the draft budget on 29 November. Revenue from sales of the state's assets will help offset an estimated 3.7 per cent increase in the government's operating costs to MD 78,200 million ($7,360 million) and a 2.3 per cent increase in the public wage bill to MD 52,200 million ($4,915 million).

The budget sets a target of 4.5 per cent growth in gross domestic product (GDP) for 2003, a marginal increase on the 4 per cent GDP growth that Prime Minister Driss Jettou announced was the government's target for 2002-04. Inflation remains unchanged from 2002 at 2 per cent.

The gradual dismantling of tariffs with the EU, the kingdom's main trading partner, is expected to result in a 6.5 per cent decline in customs receipts, though this will be partly compensated by a 7.9 per cent increase in taxes, mainly from corporate tax. The projected budget deficit for 2003 will be around 3 per cent, less than the budgeted figure for 2002. The actual 2002 deficit is expected to be higher, however, because of the government's failure to sell a number of state assets in the telecoms, sugar refining and tobacco sectors.

The 2003 budget is based on an average oil price of $24 a barrel and is currently being debated in the lower house of parliament.

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