World Bank ‘Concerned’ about Morocco’s 2018 Economic Outlook

Rabat – The economic and political transformations Morocco has experienced in recent years have not been enough to change the World Bank’s mixed outlook on Morocco’s growth potential.In its latest bi-annual report on Morocco’s economic performance, the Washington-based institution offered a relatively bleak reading about the capacity of Morocco’s economic model to absorb the kingdom’s level of unemployment, poverty, and socio-structural disparities.Moroccan news outlet Aujourd’hui le Maroc wrote in an October 4 editorial that the World Bank is “particularly concerned about the vulnerability of Morocco’s economic model.” With an investment rate surpassing national GDP by more than 30 percent, Morocco’s challenge in the short to medium term will be to boost investments to increase national productivity and stabilize the country’s sporadically-performing economy, the editorial explained.Aujourd’hui le Maroc’s rendering of the World Bank’s report is in many regards in agreement with the institution’s misgivings about Morocco’s improving but fragile, “unsustainable, and vulnerable” economic performance.“In the absence of more decisive structural reforms,” the World Bank wrote in April, Morocco’s GDP is set to decline further while agricultural output—especially cereal production—is “projected to return to its historical average.”Silver lining: Employment-generating businessesDespite cautions about Morocco’s economic model, the report is confident that Morocco can reverse the clock of doom if “appropriate measures are implemented.” To prevent the fragile economic climate from worsening, generate inclusive growth, and reset to “a sustainable and strong economy,” Morocco needs to “lower corporate tax rates, improve public investment management, and better enforce tax payments by the self-employed and liberal professions.”The mixed view on Morocco’s economy is not a first-off in the body’s assessments of the internal structural and social contradictions holding back the North African country’s potential to be a better performer.During a three-day working visit in Morocco August 27-29, the World Bank’s vice-president for the MENA region, Ferid Belhaj, praised Morocco’s economic performance in recent years. Belhaj called Morocco a “country that is moving,” a “regional exception,” and a “bright spot in a dark environment.”The World Bank official stressed: “Over the years, there have been serious efforts in terms of reforms and infrastructure. That is why I see Morocco full of potential. But there is another Morocco that is facing enormous difficulties, namely of resource redistribution and social cohesion.… There is something a bit upsetting: there are so many possibilities and achievements that make Morocco a regional exception, but there are also some lapses. These need to be tackled at their roots.” read more

UN officials urge countries to act on counterterrorism strategy

17 May 2007The main responsibility for carrying out the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy “falls squarely on Member States,” a senior UN official today told a symposium in Vienna convened to translate the landmark plan from words into action. Assistant Secretary-General Bob Orr, Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, told the opening of the two-day symposium that a majority of the more than 50 practical recommendations and provisions in the Strategy are direct calls for Member States to take specific action.“If we are to have concrete results to show to the world at the Two-Year Review of the Strategy, all actors must be actively engaged, both individually and collectively,” Mr. Orr said, pledging that the UN and its various departments and agencies would also introduce practical measures when required.Adopted by the General Assembly last September after a year of often fractious negotiations, the Strategy includes practical steps at the local, national and international level – ranging from strengthening the capacity of individual States to prevent and combat terrorism to ensuring that human rights and the rule of law are always respected in the fight against terrorism. It also calls for measures to enhance the role of the UN system to deal with terrorism, and to make sure that the world body’s efforts are better coordinated.Speaking during a debate following the opening speeches, Mr. Orr said the Strategy had been adopted as a holistic, comprehensive document and its implementation should therefore be done in an integrated manner and not as a pick-and-choose exercise by Member States.The Vienna symposium – convened jointly by the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Austria – is the first major forum for Member States and the UN system to gather to chart a path for implementing the Strategy since its adoption.UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa told the meeting that his agency has the history of technical assistance, the network of field offices and the knowledge of the links between drugs, crime and terrorism to help UN Member States on the ground as they devise the practical measures to counter terrorism.Mr. Costa also called on States to set clear benchmarks against which performance can be measured, adding that “we will be judged by our actions, by results.” read more

Mothers iPhone hit by lightning as she films summer storm

This is the terrifying moment a woman’s phone records being struck by a bolt of lightning as she tried to film a thunderstorm.Tracey Kutluol was filming the storm from her living room window when her iPhone was zapped by the thunderbolt at 10pm on Thursday night.The dramatic footage shows Tracey, from Galashiels, Scottish Borders, joking “I’m going to get electrocuted” as she opened her window to get a better look at the storm.The video shows dark clouds and thunder can be heard before a flash of lightning strikes the phone. Since the incident, she has posted a video which has had over 30,000 views.The mother-of-two, who was with her children Max, ten and Mia, 14, while filming the video, said her life flashed before her eyes.Ms Kutluol, 43, said an electric shock ran up her left arm, leaving her with extreme pins and needles. She said it was her new rubber phone cover, delivered just hours before she was struck, that saved her life.The full-time mother said: “I was trying to film how dark it was and hoping for a little lightning that I could capture but I did not anticipate that it would hit me. The lightning hit the pop socket on my phone. “And if I am being honest, that saved my life otherwise my phone would have probably exploded. I was not hurt and all the kids and my friend who were with me were all fine. My kitchen light bulb managed to blow up though.”You have no idea how powerful lightning is, I could still feel pins and needles from my left hand starting from my pinky all the way up to my elbow. When it hit, it was like a big blue light.”That was when I realised that my life flashed before me. I just threw my phone and we all started to panic and scream.”Terrified the house might catch on fire, Ms Kutluol and her children ran to hide in her bedroom on the ground floor of the townhouse, where she thought it would be safest.She said: “My son tried to make sure the cat wouldn’t jump out of the window. My daughter thought the place was going to go on fire.”As a mother, my job was to try and comfort my kids and keep them calm. We pulled all the plugs off the sockets and run to my room.”Then on the third floor, it’s my son’s room, bathroom, and our living room. So my room is on the lower ground so I felt we would be much safer there. We stayed there until 11.30pm.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Ms Kutluol the frightening incident is one she will “never forget” but said she is thankful to the eBay seller who she purchased the phone case from.She said: “I don’t know his name but I message him today telling him I was so thankful for that case as it actually saved my life.”At first, my children thought my case looked funny but I bet they are happy with it now. I think I will probably buy the pink version of that phone cover from him.”She b added: “Tonight we are due to have more thunder. I’m not going to lie but I am so nervous for when it comes. Our plans tonight is as soon as we hear lightning we will turn off all electrical items and go to my room.”I just want to raise awareness for anyone who plans on doing what I did, don’t do it, don’t be a numpty like me. I’ve had calls from my family in Germany and when my husband came into the house last night he said what I did was irresponsible.”I did have a cry about it all, so please be careful out there as it can happen to anyone.” read more