The economic conference of August 18 and 19 had the immense advantage of revealing to us the economic vision of the current Algerian regime and the ultra-liberal options that constitute its basis.
Let’s start with the closing speech of Prime Minister Djerad who spoke of “economic diversification by encouraging productive investment and processing industries, the revision of rule 51/49… the removal of the obligation of a local financing for foreign investments and the abolition of the preferential system for the importation of SKD / CKD, the development of natural resources (in particular mining), the substitution of imported products by those processed locally to preserve foreign exchange reserves, the promotion of the industrial fabric with particular attention to SMEs and start-ups ”, promising“ the liberation of initiatives from all bureaucratic obstacles ”, that is to say less intervention by the State, or more exactly more freedom left to private initiative.
This speech alone summarized the main axes on which the economic projects of the government revolve: industrialization based on the promotion of processing industries and exploitation (with the aim of being exported) of mining resources, the promotion of SMEs. and “start-ups”, and investments from the national and foreign private sector … Djerad mentions in passing, the preservation of the “social character of the State”, which the previous regime had taken care to do, because in a society that remains divided between rich and poor, it is still necessary to provide the latter at least with bread, water and electricity in order to prevent any form of revolt. With the exception of this passage on the welfare state, no resolution recalled the working class condition, social demands or the question of the purchasing power of the masses.
This regime is stalling because the private sector has not waited for these directions to unfold and fit into the capitalist mold for three or four decades. Nothing new indeed, because the industrial sector of transformation, strongly represented by the agro-food industries, constitutes since the 1990s and the dismantling of the public industrial fabric, the base of the national industry.
The private sector has also for a very long time freed itself from bureaucratic obstacles by operating in a framework where the informal is the rule: a majority of companies do not declare their employees to the CNAS, labour legislation is flouted and social protections are ignored, real turnover is under-declared to avoid tax and union representations are non-existent, if not repressed, as is the case with the most powerful of them (CEVITAL).
The resolutions adopted in the sectoral and thematic workshops call for “strengthening the role of the private sector”. Those relating to agriculture come down to a series of incantations (sanitation of agricultural land, consolidation, revision of the system of concession of agricultural land and steppe rangelands, resolution of market dysfunctions, reorganization of the “profession” into cooperatives or interest groups… ”.
For the industry, it is still a question of revising the labour code (as if the current code protected workers from employers’ arbitrariness!) And the law on investment (more freedoms, privileges and less state control) …
For the financing of development, it is necessary to note the “revision of the exchange policies” and the arrangement of a “progressive floating of the exchange rate”, which means, in terms of economic benefits, a withdrawal of the State in fixing the value of the dinar and more freedom for the (parallel) markets to decide on this value, which will continue to be depreciated against the dollar or the euro, which means higher prices and also power of purchase down …
Among other recommendations, it is a question of facilitating investments, and a “simplification of the procedures for accessing public resources”.
Note that privatization or opening up to private capital will be extended to banks, the transport sector, ports, but also to the flagships of our industry, now under public control …
We can clearly see that the economic liberalization initiated under the Chadli era, pursued and accentuated by his successors, is again and again renewed, even larger and broader.
These guidelines written in the form of recommendations within these famous workshops of the conference which brought together ministers, state executives, bosses, union representatives’ heirs to Sidi Saïd, and some “experts” (mostly acquired from the ideology).
A “new economy” with political staff who generously fed “the system”
The nature of economic choices comes as no surprise when you consider the political staff in charge of the economy. In addition to the services of liberal economists, Tebboune’s economic advisor is Abdelaziz Khellef and Djerad’s advisor is another financial executive, Brahim Bouzeboudjen.
The first was Minister of Commerce (1980-1986), Minister of Finance (1986-1988) and Secretary General of the Presidency (1991-92). In other words, he has spent his entire career as a senior civil servant in the service of the Chadli regime, the source of the current economic disaster. After that date he pursued a career as a banker (including the Islamic Development Bank).
Father of the anti-shortage program for the import of superfluous consumer products, the first act of squandering the savings in foreign currencies created under Boumediène to finance “investments to enhance existing potential”. But also an active player in the economic liberalization measures launched under the Chadli era.
The second, a former director of the Treasury, was the secretary of Khellef, but also the former director of cabinet of Benflis before being appointed in 2010 by Bouteflika as head of the National Organ for the prevention and fight against corruption (ONPLC), an alibi institution that failed – to be kind – in the fight against this phenomenon.
Instead of calling to account this high-ranking official paid for years to investigate corruption – he who managed the Algerian treasury, is therefore perfectly placed to denounce overbilling, currency transfers or other purchases of goods real estate abroad – known to citizens – a presidential decree elevated him to the rank of first economic adviser to the Prime Minister.
This is how Tebboune is building the new Algeria with people from the past, having had, through the exercise of their functions, a responsibility in the economic disaster, and whose roots are to be found in ultra-liberal options that we are renewing today.
Small additional information: the “golden boy” Alexandre Kateb, influential member of the Sellal task force, with a Macronian professional background (a man in the service of French banks), who inspired in 2017, against the very advice of the BCA, unconventional financing and the new “economic model” (of which we have not the slightest written record) wrote an article on Lebanon published in the newspaper Le Monde dated Friday, August 21 (page 26). He recommends that Lebanon draw closer … to Israel and cooperate with that state to resolve its dependence on energy. This gives us an idea of the ideological complicities that unite certain supporters of economic liberalism …
Written by Sid ali, first published in the Alger républicain