Summary: The European Commission and Morocco have just signed a swathe of Financing Agreements, worth a total of ECU 174 million, to help implement various projects under the MEDA programme. The projects are focused in the main on the privatisation of public enterprises, the development of forest areas, education, rural development, health care, and youth. The latest Financing Agreements mean there is a 5% overrun on the budget provided to Morocco for the 1996-98 period. Compared with the National Indicative Programme for these three years, involving ECU 450 million, the commitment targets now stand at over ECU 476 million (if other activities and projects being prepared to the tune of ECU 7.6 million are included). Invitations to tender are to be opened in 1999 for the completion of these various projects.

The projects due to be funded include three for the private sector. The privatisation assistance project (ECU 5 million worth of EU grants) will provide the Ministry of the Public Sector and Privatisation with the resources it needs by way of international expertise to press on with the privatisation programme provided for by the law and deal with the most difficult cases. It will also allow for the public sector to be opened up to private investment and competition, including infrastructure concessions, and training in privatisation techniques for executive staff. The support to SME guarantee financial institutions (ECU 30 million in EU aid) project seeks to provide easier access to medium and long-term bank loans for SMEs in the productive private...

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