By Larbi Arbaoui
By Larbi Arbaoui
Morocco World News
Taroudant, December 9, 2012
In a meeting with his party members last Sunday in Rabat, Abdelilah Benkirane, Morocco’s head of government, expressed his determination to put an end to the state’s support for fuels (including gas used for house-hold needs) and basic goods through reforming the compensation scheme. According to Benkirane, social assistance, expected not to exceed MAD 300, should be delivered directly to the less fortunate in the form of monthly subsidies. The offer might have seem rational, however, uncalled for.
In order to convince his party members, who claim such measures will lead open the door to a public backlash of the government, Benkirane compared the fuel subsidies that cost the government 12 billion MAD to the health ministry’s budget that does not exceed 6 billion. Mr. Benkiran asked his audiences with a humorous tone: “Do you want a bottle of gas or health?”
To Mr. Benkirane’s utter dismay, a woman replied by shouting loudly and boldly across the silent room, “a bottle of gas”. The room precipitously became noisy and the entire audience burst out laughing. Some may have considered the woman’s comment a comical joke. However, it was a clear message to what the citizens’ choice would be in response to such trivial question. The head of government received an honest and straightforward answer that the majority of Moroccans would agree upon. Thankfully, the woman replied wisely on behalf of mainstream Moroccans and their needs.
Taking into consideration the inadequate conditions of hospitals, the poor public health service centers and the widespread corruption in the health sector, the Moroccan citizen would still prefer the government to continue allocating funds for fuel since it provides the average citizen with everyday necessities to provide for their families. The poor rely on fuel to cook and power their houses. Any cuts on fuel subsidies will deprive the indigent people from their basic needs.
Before the clapping hands of his supporters, the head of government reminded Moroccans of the unfinished business he was elected to do. He added that only a partial part of the 2013 financial law had been achieved and “Ayam Allah Twila” (there is stilltime ahead) for him to achieve the goals he set out for his term in office. Moreover, Benkirane reminded the crowd of his political philosophy that had guided his decision processes. Additionally, he asserted that regardless of his actions’ unpopularity and their consequences on the PJD party, he will still make the decisions that are badly needed to secure a better future for the Moroccan people.
Benkirane would have gained Moroccans’ respect and admiration if he could use the same determination practiced above to tackle bigger issues that have affected citizens for decades. He has not delivered on promises during his campaign. One of them is fighting corruption, which seems no longer to be among the government’s top priorities. Although this plague was denounced countless times by the head of government, both in formal and informal meetings, no drastic measures have been taken in order to bring corrupt official to justice.
The Moroccan people are also concerned about the economic future of the country. They demand answers regarding their taxes and expect the government to strive on their behalf to improve the living conditions of millions, especially in some of the often neglected areas of the country.
The message conveyed by the prime minister is loud and clear. Instead of balancing the budget, he prefers to cut from one and give to the other. Our head of the government wants to cripple the state’s aid to our daily basic needs and deprive the poor from a necessity that keeps them and their families alive for the sake of supporting the ministry of health. To do both – keep social assistance and reform health- is for Benkirane a waste of public funds. The philosopher Nietzsche once said, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster,” a piece of advice Benkirane should take into consideration.
Edited By Benjamin Villanti