New York - Morocco’s Head of Government Abdelilah Benkirane said on Tuesday before the House of Councilors that the privatization of the SAMIR refinery was a “serious mistake.”
New York – Morocco’s Head of Government Abdelilah Benkirane said on Tuesday before the House of Councilors that the privatization of the SAMIR refinery was a “serious mistake.”
“They should not have entrusted such a vital sector such as oil to a foreigner,” Benkirane stated, adding that Morocco “will not yield to blackmail” from SAMIR’s CEO, Saudi Arabian Mohamed Houssein El Amoudi, according to Yabiladi news website.
“The privatization of SAMIR is a serious mistake as the company was not in deficit every year but earned MAD 500 million,” Morocco’s Head of Government highlighted, addressing the oil company’s privatization for the first time.
In August 2015, El Amoudi’s Corral Group, which owns 67.27 percent of SAMIR (Société Anonyme Marocaine de l’Industrie du Raffinage) announced a halt in production of 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) at its Mohammedia refinery, leaving the country’s oil industry stranded.
Jamal Ba-Amer, General Manager of the SAMIR, stopped production without warning, thus putting Moroccan oil supplies in jeopardy and forcing the Moroccan government to secure sufficient fuel storage.
In an unprecedented move, according to Moroccan media, Saudi billionaire El Amoudi left Morocco last August 23 leaving 950 unpaid employees.
SAMIR has since faced several accusations, lack of compliance with Moroccan government’s regulations, MAD 13 billion accumulated debt in customs, and a total debt of MAD 40 billion, including unpaid salaries for employees and importers, as well as loan repayments.
Morocco “is determined not to give in to blackmail of this gentleman. The Moroccan State has dignity,” Abdelilah Benkirane said in reference to Saudi El Amoudi.
The Head of Government pointed out that the decision to put an end to the Saudi man’s noncompliance and misuse of the SAMIR was made in consultation with “the appropriate authority”.
The decision “was unanimous,” Benkirane said adding that he was pleased of not received any opposition and “citizens have not objected.”
Morocco’s government chief reminded parliamentarians that El Amoudi paid Morocco MAD 3.5 billion to acquire SAMIR, and 18 years later he owes nearly MAD 43 billion to Moroccan banks.
In September 2015, a Moroccan official cited by Hespress claimed that SAMIR smuggled one billion tons of fuel annually outside of Morocco.
“SAMIR’s accounts are not transparent, and we have noticed a lot of excesses,” he said, adding that “the export of this fuel is highly irresponsible.”