Public administration between evils and progress

More than a hundred experts and researchers from different horizons took part in the 11th edition of the International Symposium “Cross-views on the transformations of management and public organizations” which was held from June 3 to 4 in Rabat. Placed under the theme “Half a Century of Administrative Reforms: What Effects on the Governance of State Organizations?”, This important meeting – initially scheduled for April 2020 and postponed for one year due to the health situation which has prevailed in the world since the beginning of 2020, was organized by the Higher Institute of Commerce and Business Administration (ISCAE-Rabat) in partnership with the Policy Center for the New South. Hosted by more than sixty panelists, the new edition of the Symposium this year coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of the ISCAE group, the leading public higher education institution in management. Another coincidence and not the least: the edition was held just a few days after the presentation by the Special Commission on the Development Model (CSMD) to HM King Mohammed VI of the report on the new development model (NMD) whose implementation must be based on a number of levers such as the reform of public administration and the State in general. “This 11th Symposium on public management takes place in a rather specific framework. First, it deals with 50 years of public administration reforms in Morocco and other countries and their impact on the governance of state organizations. Then, it is an unprecedented organization insofar as it is in hybrid mode (distance or face-to-face) taking into account the health context ”, indicated Tarik El Malki, president of the 2020-21 edition of the said Symposium and, by elsewhere, director of ISCAE Rabat. “This new edition is modestly part of the reflection on how the public administration should support the development process of our country because it is an extremely important tool to achieve the objectives set by the new development model” , he stressed. Secretary General of the Department for Administrative Reform at the Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Administrative Reform, Ahmed Laâmoumri, for his part, added that “the objective of this symposium is to have different perspectives between countries and experts in the field of administrative reform. In 50 years, what reforms have been made, what must be kept, revised, reinvented or further developed in terms of human capital, the digitalization system, etc. He asked himself. At the heart of the work of this 11th International Symposium, the public administration “played a decisive role in the socio-economic progress of Morocco, in particular through the impetus it was able to give to the extension of public services, setting up road, rail and maritime infrastructure projects, developing social programs, etc. ”Said Tarik El Malki. He also recalled that a large number of reforms have been adopted since the launch of the new concept of authority, in particular over the past 20 years, to operationalize the 2011 constitutional framework which impels a new vision of the relationship between administration and the citizen. It is important to specify that “the Constitution has defined a role for the administration but also obligations; which call for assuming the responsibilities of public decisions, particularly in terms of operationalizing public policies in the territory, ”as Tarik El Malki pointed out in his opening remarks. During his speech, the director of ISCAE-Rabat also pointed out that the National Charter of Public Services adopted in 2019 “defines the rules of good governance in the management of public administrations, in the regions and local authorities. and public bodies ”. Member of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE), Mouncef Ziani agreed, believing that the role of the Moroccan administration has been essential in the socio-economic progress of Morocco. And this, “through the impetus it has given to the extension of public services, the setting up of infrastructure projects (road, rail, maritime), the development of social programs as well as the installation major investment projects ”. According to him, since the launch of the new concept of authority, a large number of reforms have been adopted, whether at the level of central administration, territorial administrations, control and governance bodies, in particular during the last two legislatures to operationalize the constitutional framework of 2011 which established a new vision of the relationship between the administration and users. On the vast project of public administration reforms that has emerged, Mouncef Ziani, moreover, representative of the category of professional organizations and associations within the Bureau of the EESC, noted five elements. On the strategic level, he noted that Morocco has put in place a national plan for the reform of the administration which is based on four vectors of transformation: organizational, managerial, ethical and digital. On the legislative level, he recalled that the Kingdom adopted Law No. 31-13 on the right of access to information. In this regard, it should be noted that “this is a fundamental aspect for, on the one hand, encouraging the public administration to disseminate information of public interest widely and, on the other hand, to make citizen participation in the process operational. management of public affairs ”, according to the interlocutor who considers that the provisions of this law nevertheless deserve to be revised by introducing provisions which further enshrine the full exercise of this right and by repealing certain provisions limiting its scope. On the institutional and regulatory level, Moncef Ziani drew the participants’ attention to the ongoing process of simplifying administrative procedures and formalities and improving transparency. In terms of promoting good governance, he recalled that “independent bodies have been set up, reactivated or strengthened, such as the Competition Council, the National Body for Integrity and the Fight against Corruption and the Moroccan Authority. capital markets ”. Finally, with regard to the tax system of Morocco, it is clear that “the facilitation and dematerialization measures of the procedures put in place in recent years mark a significant advance in the relationship of the taxpayer with the tax administration”, a- He stressed noting that since January 1, 2017, all Moroccan companies have the obligation to adopt the declaration and the online payment to proceed to the electronic payment of several taxes. Insisting on the importance of digital transformation, considered as an essential lever for the development of any country, in particular Morocco, A. Laamoumri noted that “the report on the new development model submitted to His Majesty the King highlights this important lever. It is also a factor of ethics, transparency in the administrations and in the relations between them and with the private and the citizen. Digital transformation is also a tool for reducing processing times for files that are very dear to citizens ”. If Morocco can be happy to have carried out a number of reforms over the past five decades, it is nevertheless true that the Moroccan administration still suffers from several ills. And the NMD report presented to the Sovereign is far from stingy in examples. Indeed, it highlights the limited capacities of the public sector in terms of the design and implementation of public policies and accessible and quality public services in areas essential to daily life and the well-being of citizens; the persistence in administering a culture of compliance rather than a culture of leadership and performance; which produces demotivation and dissuades taking initiative as well as the flagrant lack of coherence and coordination. Another observation noted: the implementation of public strategies and policies seems to be carried out mainly by the allocation of resources and insufficiently by monitoring results. This relegates to the background the concern for impact and performance both economically, socially and environmentally. Many other ills that plague the administration were highlighted during this international meeting sponsored by BMCE Bank for Africa. During his speech, Tarik El Malki indeed insisted on “the question of red tape, absenteeism, the low quality of certain public services, the lack of efficiency of certain public services and the lack of accountability in the public service which are also regularly criticized by our fellow citizens ”. Evils well known to the representative of the ESEC who thus took this opportunity to unearth the “constraints and weaknesses, some of which are structural, and which relate to bureaucracy, absenteeism, the poor quality of certain public services, deficiencies in terms of clarity of public orientation, the coherence of sectoral policies and the implementation of the reforms undertaken, ”he said. As the ills are known to all, the most important thing is that all stakeholders analyze them together in order to find possible solutions to improve the quality of services in the administration and satisfy citizens. In any case, this is one of the ways recommended by Latifa El Abida, ex-secretary of state in charge of school education. For this former member of the El Fassi government, the time is no longer for criticism but for analysis and diagnosis of the evils that undermine the Moroccan administration. “We must stop beating on administrations and civil servants, but rather see what their needs are and try to fix what is wrong. We will have to see together what does not work in order to find solutions to the problems facing our administration. This is not how we are going to be reconciled with her ”. Be that as it may, and despite the efforts made to change the situation, the situation of the Moroccan administration remains worrying, all the more so as “the health crisis that we have been experiencing for over a year, despite an exemplary commitment from the State in order to limit the negative impact on the health, economic and social plan, showed us the limits and the insufficiencies of the latter, in particular on the social plan ”, underlined Tarik El Malki. Thus, to help improve the efficiency of public services, the EESC advocates an integrated, participatory and multidimensional vision based on four essential levers: generalization and improvement of the digitization of public services to achieve equity, transparency and efficiency. ; the revitalization of the action of territorial public services; capacity building of public administration actors and citizen participation as well as the strengthening and delimitation of responsibilities to make effective accountability. Tarik El Melki called on the State to reform in depth to become a visionary and strategic State; protective and regulating and, finally, effective. In order to effectively support the implementation of the new development model, he believes that the challenges that currently arise can be tackled through three series of transversal reforms: First, the issue of the efficiency of the administration must be dealt with through the legal and statutory transformations of the administration in the territories. Then, the response to growing social needs (highlighted by the Covid-19 crisis): in particular through reform of the health system, work on extending medical coverage, social protection nets for the most disadvantaged, taking charge of old age and improving the education-training system. Finally, support for the acceleration of economic growth, in particular through the rationalization of State and administrative expenditure for better management of public expenditure and then the overhaul of taxation, in particular through the implementation the recommendations of the Third Tax Assizes (2019) with the main objectives of broadening the State’s tax base, justice and tax fairness. On the side of the Ministry of Finance, everything is done to move things forward: “We have completely changed our approach and approach. We have set ourselves an objective: to put the citizen at the center of the administration’s concerns and meet their needs and expectations. And it appeared that the only means to respond to the latter is transparency and the simplification of procedures, ”said Ahmed Laamoumri. Thus, according to him, “we have identified 3,400 procedures that are being simplified in accordance with the law: the number of documents has been reduced, procedures and acts which have no legal basis have been completely abolished, the the number of parts has also been reduced ”. Note that this symposium was punctuated by three round tables and 14 workshops led by renowned experts from several countries. It was marked by rich and very informative exchanges confirming the interest of the participants in this very current topic.