‘Choose your words and manage your time wisely’: Five minutes with Noureddine Bensouda, Morocco’s finance chief

By on 03/06/2024 | Updated on 04/06/2024

In this interview, Noureddine Bensouda, general treasurer of the Kingdom of Morocco, shares his career advice and discusses exemplary projects from Morocco as well as those he admires from overseas.

This is part of a ‘Five minutes’ series featuring participants from this week’s Global Government Finance Summit in Dublin (5-6 June). 

What more do you want to achieve before you retire?

I would like the General Treasury of the Kingdom of Morocco to keep on progressing and developing, and in that regard, guaranteeing continuity is vital as well as finding the best successor.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your working life?

The best piece of advice I’ve been given in my professional life – and in my personal life too – is to keep silent, to choose carefully when and where to talk and above all what to say and the way to say it. The wording always makes the difference.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the civil service?

To open up your ears and do whatever you are told to do, no matter how minor, unimportant or irrelevant it may sound. And more important is to know when to stop (at the right time) because, as we say, ‘the best is the enemy of the good’.

Which country’s civil service or which government department or agency are you most inspired by and why? 

In my view, China is one of the most inspiring countries in the world today. It started from almost nothing but a difficult situation in the 70s with enormous issues and challenges economically, socially and demographically speaking. It’s now one of the biggest players shaping the world we are living in today.

Read more: Sustainability and digital transformation ‘complete game changers’, says Morocco government finance chief

Can you name one lesson or idea from abroad that’s helped you and your colleagues?

Teamwork is what makes an organisation succeed. As we often say, alone we go fast but together we go further. In addition, through good teamwork we end up developing collective intelligence that increases and amplifies efficiency and productivity, and challenges the limits of what’s possible.

The second idea is to have a positive attitude towards human resources, focusing on the best side, on abilities and capacities, to support them and make them evolve and improve permanently.

In that sense, building new things, a new future, inspires me a lot and I feel satisfaction and even happiness at improving others’ daily life.

Are there any projects or innovations in your country that might be valuable to your peers overseas?

One of the major ideas that may interest certain countries is the remit transfer I’ve made between the General Treasury of the Kingdom (GTK) and General Direction of Taxation (GDT), leading to greater consistency and more clarity in the realm of government and local authority taxation.

Indeed, when I was head of GDT I ensured the remits in the realm of corporate tax and revenue tax were transferred from GTK to GDT and now that I’m head of GTK I ensured the remits in the realm of local taxes are transferred in the opposite way. As a result, the GTK is now responsible for the local taxes recovery end-to-end process and the GDT is responsible for government taxes recovery.

Read more: Ireland hosts public sector pioneers in Dublin for third Fintech Lab

What attributes do you most value in people? 

The attributes that I value most in people are: reliability and trust, earnestness and competence.

Is there something about you that people find surprising?

My relationship with time. It’s a rare and invaluable asset and it’s vital to me to keep control on it. Consequently, I’m very organised. There is a time for work, a time for family, and so on.

The personal/professional time balance is central to me. And more broadly speaking I consider time sequencing as key to a successful professional life and a happy personal one.

What’s your favourite thing to do at the weekends?

I enjoy sport, especially road cycling with friends. I also have a passion for reading and I appreciate knowledge accumulation (with no limits). Every book and more broadly every situation, every moment, every contact is a fruitful occasion to learn new things, raise my knowledge and augment my memory. I literally absorb all kinds of information that comes to me and try to keep updated.

What is your most treasured possession?  

Freedom is my most treasured possession. I like to be a free man and I wouldn’t want someone to take away my freedom. I’ve always been quite free professionally speaking and when it comes to management, having margins and room for manoeuvre is highly valuable. But of course this comes along with responsibility and accountability, and that’s a good thing.

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