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.