World Bank to double loans to Morocco to $2.4 bln


The World Bank plans to double loans to Morocco to $2.4 billion through 2013 to support the country’s efforts to reduce mass poverty and spur growth, Moroccan government and bank officials said on Tuesday.

“The World Bank will increase its loans to Morocco to $600 million per year for the 2010-2013 period from $300 million annually in the previous years as a signal of the credibility of its development programme and reforms,” Economic Affairs Minister Nizar Baraka said.

In a presentation of government strategy to reporters, Baraka and World Bank officials said the government aimed in the next few years to improve governance, expand access to basic services like drinking water, implement financial reforms and boost the competitiveness of small businesses in cities and rural areas.

“Improving democracy and good governance are the key for a balanced and sustainable development,” Baraka said.

Morocco has averaged 5 percent economic growth annually over the past five years but the government says that is not fast enough to reduce poverty, which affects more than five million people, or improve living conditions for the mostly farming population in remote areas.

The government aims to increase spending on social development programmes. They include building roads and schools in remote villages, providing food subsidies, and offering cash incentives to encourage poor families to ensure their children keep going to school.

The World Bank said it would finance in the next few years a rural transport scheme worth 500 million euros, as well as microfinance schemes and projects to allow poor people and small firms to access banking services. It would also support upgrading of small farming businesses.

Farming accounts for up to 17 percent of the economy and about 40 percent of Morocco’s population of more than 30 million depends on the sector for its livelihood.

Most of the country’s farmers tend small areas of less than five hectares and have little access to traditional banking services.

SOURCED FROM REUTERS

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