Morocco may consider selling stakes in Maroc Telecom in 2019 - finance minister

 Morocco may consider selling stakes in Maroc Telecom in 2019 - finance minister

RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco may consider selling stakes next year in Maroc Telecom, the country's largest telecom operator, as it aims at raising 5 billion dirhams ($527 million) from the sale of public enterprises, the economy and finance minister said on Tuesday.

Maroc Telecom, listed on both the Casablanca Stock Exchange and Euronext Paris, is 53 percent controlled by the UAE's Etisalat, with the Moroccan state owning 30 percent.

The government will further open the capital of public enterprises to private investors and will restructure state-owned enterprises and institutions, Economy and Finance Minister Mohamed Benchaaboun told a news conference.

Public institutions such as railway operator (ONCF) require restructuring before privatisation can be considered, he said.

Selling stakes in public enterprises is also aimed at boosting liquidity on the Casablanca stock exchange, he said.

Privatisation as well as restructuring state-owned enterprises will help the government generate up to 8 billion dirhams to narrow the budget deficit to 3.3 percent next year, Benchaaboun said.

Without privatisation the budget deficit would surge to 3.7 percent of GDP in 2019, he said.

The budget deficit is seen expanding to 3.8 percent this year from an initial goal of 3 percent in the 2018 budget.

A surge in spending on social services, including education, health and youth employment would result in additional financial needs of 27 billion dirhams.

The draft budget, which was submitted to parliament on Friday, aims to raise 2 billion dirhams in 2019 and 2020 from a 2.5 percent solidarity tax on the net profit of firms with annual net profit above 40 million dirhams.

The draft budget expects the economy to grow by 3.2 percent next year, down from 3.6 percent this year, while inflation is seen below 2 percent.

($1 = 9.4846 Moroccan dirham)

(Reporting by Ahmed El Jechtemi in Rabat; editing by Ulf Laessing and David Evans)

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Updated Date: Oct 24, 2018 01:06:15 IST