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And an emergency strategic Vision 2016 to 2030 is needed . . .

According to information available to us, a new growth model will shortly be presented by the government to cover a wide range of policies for the country’s foreseeable future.  These are based on proposals that were agreed upon with the economic and social partners and tabled at the Tripartite recent meeting.  As a matter of fact, taking this opportunity, we now realise that since its independence in 1962, Algeria is in an unfinished transition period, and definitely in need of an emergency strategic Vision for 2016 through 2030.  This in view of the acute socio-political conjecture, is more than ever needed and the only way is to move on forward.

For purposes of operability, our analysis of the situation from 1963 to 2016 to possibility of anticipate future prospects and in this context, it seems essential to grasp the relationships between changes in the rentier dependence on hydrocarbons in Algeria and socioeconomic policies of the period of 1963 through 2015 in order to clearly envision the future challenges of Algeria.  It is that of understanding the dialectical those links between the progressive evolution of the functions of State, the rentier semi-annuity and the conventional Market in the context of globalization characterised by the fourth industrial revolution and the new global environmental challenge.   Admittedly the 1963/2016 period could objectively be considered an unfinished transition period as based on the rentier model of a hydrocarbon-based economy.   There have been many achievements but also many shortcomings that have to be imperatively corrected, whilst avoiding any unnecessary pessimism.

1. As of June 2014, we saw a decline in hydrocarbon revenues by nearly 40% dragging the country into new financial turbulence; Algeria which after 50 years of independence is still dependent with 98% of its revenues derived hydrocarbons.  We hear now like before rentiers speeches of some officials, who live in the illusion of rent, backed up by experts living off government’s contracts, say the prices will get to over $80 but contradicted by reality because unlike that of the 1986 crisis,  this one seems to be of long duration.   It is worth reminding that the various successive governments of the period from 1963 to 2016 were all animated by the extraction of hydrocarbons.   That stayed on despite a number of good speeches on the existing dialectical links between rentier logic and the informal business sphere that is in no way fought through technical measures only.   In effect, there is some dialectical relationship between the advances or the delays of reforms as oil price fluctuated in real terms.   A decrease in cash and we see a timid tendency to move towards reforms however without upsetting the system logic.   The world should nevertheless go over the period of 2016 to 2030, important geostrategic and economic changes with the fourth industrial revolution resulting in amongst many other things, a cultural revolution.   Our leaders though are still living under the illusion of rentier and getting on their business with a 1970 model of the mechanical age. Algeria at present is at a crossroads path, and as per the existing unanimous opinion of mostly all international institutions and credible Algerian experts, Algeria has two choices.   It is either deepens structural reforms related to freedom and social cohesion or go right back to the IMF.   FREEDOMS development at large, visibility, consistency, good governance, enhancement of work and knowledge, the morality of rulers / ruled, these are the key streams leading towards national recovery.   This would involve gathering all those concerned with the future of the nation and not dwell on sterile dividing questions, but rather learn to tolerate our differences; no one having the monopoly of truth and nationalism.

2. It is before both the global and internal related mutations in Algerian society, that this digital youth is developing another notion of society’s values. This is witnessed through the breakup of the family unit, the gradual decline in the weight of the tribes, the birth of religious brotherhoods and certain trade unions (the latter apparently meant only for mobilizing social demands and not for political action).   Socio-economic policies of the period between 1963 through to 2015 varied little or did on the same theme, with atomized opposition and many insignificant micro-political parties, often manipulated by the administration but coming alive at elections in exchange for a fraction of the oil semi-annuity.   Turnkey industries between 1965 and 1979, followed by over-investment in infrastructure during a period of 1980 to 2010 and 2000 to 2015 with an unprecedented expansion during the same periods of the informal market sphere to represent well over 50% of the entire economy of the country.   This was the result of an uncontrolled opening up of the external trade with an import bill exploding between 2010 and 2015 fundamentally due to a surge in public spending with exorbitant extra costs and generalized untargeted   Non-hydrocarbon exports were marginal representing less than 5% of the total revenue.   70% of these exports are derivatives of oil and minerals and 70% of the value of the Dinar is correlated to oil.   The value-added component of the GDP at 80%, employment and taxation on regular and hydrocarbons are directly or indirectly tied to this semi-annuity.

3. A sustainable solution would require renewed governance, and a revaluation and empowerment of the long-time devalued knowledge. Historical analysis shows clearly that the Algerian political system (not to be confused with the State in the epistemological sense) which is a subset of the political system has fundamentally not been altered since political independence, and if so, it was formally and not in nature.   The tensions in the system, or those to come, must be sought in certain malfunctions and / or crises of authority that arise periodically, and some time at the highest level of the State.   The new political reconfiguration must be in support of the internal changes in society.   The strategic objective is the development of freedoms, greater economic efficiency, social justice that is not cosmetic egalitarianism, and a greater moralization of all institutions.   These ought to be providing for the strengthening of all independent monitoring bodies for an effective and concrete struggle against corruption.   The most effective control is a democratic system with protection of the rights of private property as enshrined in the new Constitution and in total consideration of the diverse international commitments of Algeria such as the Free Trade Agreement with Europe, the World Trade Organisation, and its Maghreb and African integration.

4. Faced with geopolitical tensions and the drop in oil prices, I am of the opinion that Algeria would spring out of these dire straits and overcome the current multidimensional crisis. For a long time and not just during the current period, Algeria appears to capsize at one time only to hesitantly resume its balances another time.   This is not to deny the positive traditions moulded into the path of modernity that can be factors of development.   As recalled aptly by Malek Chebel, Algeria like many Muslim countries in transition working between the imagination of the Ummah and the building of a nation-state.   The experience of many emerging countries attests of the veracity of this process.   Re-foundation of the State, if not its foundation proper as a civil entity, involves necessarily some profound transformation of the social function of politics.   Therefore, the central question is: to which end will the mechanical overhaul of the on-going politics in Algeria be orientated? The Rule of Law is not a State-functionary who manages a consensus climate, but a state that bases its authority from a certain philosophy of law on the one hand, and from conscious assimilation of the present needs of the community and a future vision of its prospects on the other.   For I must say there is no standard national state but the intrinsic anthropological facilities that shape the political system inherent in every socio-anthropological situation.   As part of this political overhaul, Algeria cannot return to itself if the false privileges are banned and the criteria of competence, loyalty and innovation are reinstated as gateways to success and social promotion.   Re-foundation of the State cannot be limited to a technical reorganization of the authority and powers.   It requires full transparency and absolute clarity in political practice together with the men charged by the nation to do so.   In fact, it is about restoring morality.   Governance is a matter of real legitimacy and not a fictitious one, involving real rearrangements in the power structure.

5. Algeria with new governance has all the potential for a crisis exit through reconciling economic efficiency and necessary social cohesion, so as to avoid both negative complacency and pessimism. Because, above all, Algeria remains a dynamic, full of vitality, which is looking and feeling its way.   Internal mutations are currently in the making, not those believed to be, but those the least suspected will be required.   Algerians want to live their differences in communion and not in confrontation; peace is a factor which does not in any way forget the lessons of the recent past to positively shape our common future.   In this context, the new model of growth that the government will soon, be,  according to our information, quantified between 2016/2019 and 2020/2030,  taking into account are proposals made by economic and social partners at the Tripartite of June 5, 2016.  These proposals are likely to succeed only if first, we would consider the trajectories of the past and not repeat the same mistakes, i.e. through setting up new de-bureaucratised institutions, obtain a minimum of social consensus for its implementation, and above all have the project being supported by the political, social and economic actors and in a different scale of values based on an economy rehabilitating work and wealth creation, to focus primarily the interests of Algeria, away from narrow partisan spirit, to learn to tolerate our differences.

Dr. Abderrahmane Mebtoul, University Professor, Expert International, ademmebtoul@gmail.com

Note :  We would recommend the reading of our proposed New Algerian economic model by 2020 herewith.

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