By Siham Ali
By Siham Ali
Rabat, March 11, 2012
The Moroccan government is preparing to set up a social solidarity fund aimed at supporting the poor.
The plans were withdrawn from the 2012 finance bill by the former government because of the challenging economic situation. But the current government has reintroduced the measure into this year’s budget. Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane issued a personal commitment to getting the fund in place.
At a press briefing on February 23rd, Benkirane said that 2 billion dirhams would be set aside for the national solidarity fund, 1.2 billion of which would be contributed by the private sector.
It will be primarily aimed at funding medical care for those experiencing financial hardship and promoting education for children from poor families.
Financing the fund remains a pressing issue. Former Economy and Finance Minister Salah Eddine Mezouar had planned funding based on a fixed contribution from certain sectors, particularly banking, insurance and telecoms.
But according to Driss Azami el Idrissi, the minister delegate responsible for the budget, the government is now trying to find objective criteria to avoid some economic sectors being set against others.
Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Najib Boulif has indicated that society as a whole needs to be on board with the plans, in a spirit of solidarity. He said that companies which enjoy significant cash flow must be aware that stability comes at a price.
He pointed out that the gentle transition experienced by Morocco spared these companies the difficulties being faced by businesses in other countries across the region.
He also mentioned the obligation to remedy failings in terms of the distribution of subsidies from the compensation fund and the importance of targeting the people in most need. In 2011, the fund’s budget amounted to 48.9 billion dirhams, or 6.1% of GDP, compared with just 0.9% in 2002.
Benkirane’s government is committed to developing the principle of solidarity, particularly for the most vulnerable sectors of society. Discussions are under way for the operational launch of another fund: the family support fund, for divorced women whose former husbands cannot pay their food allowances. According to Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid, the measure should be introduced soon. The fund will receive 160 million dirhams in 2012.
A mother and her children would each be entitled to 350 dirhams, up to a maximum payment of 1050 dirhams, Ramid said. He acknowledged that the sums involved were derisory, but promised that they will be increased once the state’s financial situation improves.
Amina Boufarah is a mother of two who has been divorced for three years and whose ex-husband does not pay the food support payment set by the court. She works as home help, earning an average of 1000 dirhams a month; not enough to pay the room rent, water and electricity bills. She still relies on help from her family and friends to survive.
“I hope the fund will soon start paying out, so that I can feed my two children,” she said.