Youth, agriculture dominate Moroccan King’s speech  

King Mohammed VI calls on elected officials to take "active" part in Morocco’s reform process at this year's opening session of the parliament.

CASABLANCA - Morocco’s King Mohammed VI Friday called on Friday elected officials to take an "active" part in the country’s reform process as he presided the opening of the first session of the third legislative year of the tenth Legislature in Rabat.

“The instructions I have given and the measures I have advocated, particularly through the State of the Nation Address and the 20 August Address, require comprehensive mobilization and collective action. Everyone should carry out his or her mission in full, making sure convictions and differences are respected,” said King Mohammed VI.

“As parliamentarians – whether you belong to a party in power or are a member of the opposition – you have the noble, yet crucial, responsibility of contributing to the current reform dynamic in the country,” he said.

The Moroccan monarch stressed that National mobilisation and teamwork require a healthy environment as well as greater solidarity between the various social strata.

He emphasised the importance of military service in enhancing the sense of belonging to the homeland besides giving access to training which opens up opportunities for the professional and social integration of qualified conscripts who demonstrate a sense of responsibility and commitment.

The Council of Ministers, chaired by King Mohammed VI, adopted August 20 the reinstatement of compulsory military service for both genders aged 19 to 25 years for a period of 12 months, pending its ratification by the parliament in October.

The King emphasized in his speech that all the Moroccan citizens concerned – without exception – are equal, regardless of social background, diploma or education, alleviating analysts’ and experts’ fear that there would be some bias in the selection.

Social expert Soumaya Naamane Guessous said that the army experience will teach the youth discipline, teamwork, social bonds, respect and interaction with each other.

The monarch also raised the issue of youth employment which he said was one of his foremost concerns.

“I believe there are a number of sectors which can contribute to creating more job opportunities. Vocational training is a powerful lever for employment, provided it receives the attention it deserves and so long as it is given a new status as well as a broader scope,” said the King.

Around 28% of Moroccans aged 15 to 24, who represent almost one-fifth of the population, are neither in school, nor in training, nor at work, while over 40% of urban youth are unemployed, according to the High Commission for Planning.

King Mohammed VI stressed that the agricultural sector can constitute a more dynamic source of employment opportunities and be instrumental in improving living conditions and consolidating stability in rural areas.

“I therefore recommend that we build on what has been accomplished in the agricultural sector and create more employment and income-generating opportunities, especially for youths in rural areas,” he said.

“The aim is to establish and consolidate a rural middle class and to make sure it plays a balancing role and serves as a lever for the achievement of economic and social development, just like the middle class does in cities,” he noted.

The King the King also called for considering the possibility that certain sectors and professions, currently unauthorised to foreigners, such as health care, may be open to quality initiatives and global leaders provided the said projects contribute to the transfer of know-how and create employment opportunities for young Moroccans with the right qualifications.

“Growing interest is being shown by many of the world’s leading clinics and hospitals that wish to invest in our country,” said King Mohammed VI.

He stressed the need to lure Moroccan students with skills, who choose to stay abroad after completing their studies, through an initiative that is going to be launched to help provide the right conditions for them to come back.

He called for Morocco’s national development model to be reconsidered and for a new approach to be devised to help address the needs of citizens – a model that would enable Moroccans to reduce gaps and disparities, achieve social and spatial justice and keep up with changes at home and abroad.

The King warned that there can be no wait-and-see attitudes or narrow calculations about the challenges facing the North African kingdom.

“Morocco must be a country of opportunity, not of opportunists. All citizens, without exception, should be given the same chance to serve their country, and all citizens must benefit, on an equal footing, from the country’s resources and from opportunities for growth and advancement,” he said.

“More than ever, Morocco needs true patriots who have the homeland’s interests at heart, who care about the citizens and who seek to bring Moroccans together rather than divide them; it needs honest officials who shoulder their responsibility with dedication and selflessness,” he said

“I therefore want you to rise to the occasion. This requires a genuine sense of patriotism, collective mobilization and a clear will to put the homeland and the citizens above all else,” he concluded.