By Siham Ali
By Siham Ali
Rabat, July 12, 2013
Moroccans say they are finding it harder to cover essential costs.
And as rough as it is now, they expect things to get worse over the next 12 months, according to a survey of households conducted by the High Commission for Planning in the first quarter of 2013.
More than 36.4 per cent of households were running into debt or having to dip into their savings. Just 6.6 per cent of households managed to save any money at all.
The cost of living rose during this year’s first half, the HCP confirmed. Most consumer goods saw significant increases “that have negatively affected citizens’ purchasing power”, the commission found.
Food prices – already up by 3.2 per cent – could go higher during Ramadan, the HCP noted.
The increase in living costs feels worse because salaries are stagnating, sociologist Farid Bekkali said.
“This situation results in the erosion of purchasing power among the middle class and worsens the poverty of the least well-off,” he said.
“The rising cost of living does not just affect food products, but services and housing, too. Despite some optimistic words from officials, the reality of prices speaks for itself,” Bekkali added.
With the onset of Ramadan – and the usual fluctuations in prices – Moroccan citizens voiced hope that the government would take steps to safeguard and increase their purchasing power.
Salima Chentioui said that for the past 15 years, her salary stayed flat whilst prices sky-rocketed.
“I get 3,500 dirhams. Fifteen years ago, I could meet my family’s needs, including the rent. Now, I’m finding it very difficult to make ends meet. Food has started to become unaffordable,” the 44-year-old told Magharebia.
Another person feeling the financial pinch, Hicham Charaf, agrees that the purchasing power of the middle class has diminished from year to year.
“Although I’m a manager, I can’t meet all my family’s day-to-day needs. Fortunately for us, my wife works,” Charaf said.
The head of the National Federation of Consumer Associations in Morocco, Mohammed Benkaddour, confirmed that purchasing power has failed to keep up with the cost of living.
His association receives complaints from the public on a daily basis concerning the increase in prices, not just for food products, but also for water, electricity and fuel. The campaigner explains that recent years have seen purchasing power failing to keep up with the cost of living.
Such public complaints tend to spread during Ramadan. Unprecedented price hikes have become a phenomenon during the holy month.
Ahead of Ramadan, Minister Delegate for General Affairs Mohamed Najib Boulif offered reassurances to the public.
“There will be no problems with supply or price increases for basic products on the markets during the month of Ramadan,” Boulif said in June.
“The government has introduced strict measures to ensure that product prices and quality are tightly controlled. Clear instructions have been sent out to central and regional departments to increase monitoring of the markets and to co-ordinate work to block any speculation,” he added.