Article from ROAPE Volume 33 Number 108
Political Contradictions of Algerian Economic Reforms
From the outset, independent Algeria's political economy was marked by a paradox, for which it is still, today, paying the price. In 1962, the State, which is essentially public, was privatised, while commercial activities, which are essentially private, were made public. That was the time when revolutionary elites in the Third World thought that faith alone was enough to develop the country, using the State but without setting up the institutions guaranteeing free expression for the social groups organised as parties, trade unions, vested interests in order to participate in the political process. In the Boumedienne-Abdeslam period (1965-1978), the economic sector of the State was expected to absorb all commercial activities, from the large-scale steel industry down to the small local bakery, preventing the different social groups from enjoying any economic autonomy. Nor were they expected to make any claims on the political order. The State had set itself the task of satisfying all social needs through the so-called public sector whose vocation was not to make any profits, but to serve the public and, as a priority, the most destitute among the population.