Rabat- After Lahcen Daoudi handed in his resignation from his government position as Minister of General Affairs and Governance, Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani has taken charge of the case concerning the profit margins of fuel distributors following the deregulation of fuel prices.
Prior to resignation, which is still pending the King’s approval, Daoudi met with fuel companies on June 1 to discuss the government’s request that companies narrow their profit margin, as some companies doubled their profits at the expense of consumers.
Former Head of Government Abdelilah Benkirane initiated the deregulation of the fuel sector. The liberalization allows the per-liter cost to vary with market trends.
Throughout the earlier meeting, Daoudi asked companies to cooperate with the government and revise their profit margins down to solve the problem of oil and gas price increases. Price increases lead to the boycott against the largest gasoline company in the country, Afriquia, owned by Minister of Agriculture, Aziz Akhannouch.
Daoudi scheduled a second meeting for Wednesday, June 6, but it was postponed for Friday, after Daoudi announced his intention to resign from his ministerial duties on the same day.
Daoudi’s move came after he joined a sit-in before the Parliament with protesters calling for the boycott against Centrale Danone to end, angering boycotters.
On June 6, 2017, Daoudi accused oil companies in Morocco of increasing fuel prices: “It is indeed inconceivable that an operator doubles their profits from one year to another by taking advantage of liberalization.”
At the time, he assured consumers that his ministry would work with all distributors to revise their margins down “so that the consumer no longer pays the price of liberalization to distributors.”
El Othmani will replace Daoudi in the meeting with fuel companies in Rabat to negotiate and make agreements, according to Moroccan news outlet Medias 24.
Typically, the number of gas stations a fuel distributor owns signifies the extent of the owner’s investments. Afriquia owns more gas stations than any other gas distributor across the country, numbered at 38 gas stations in different regions.
According to the chairman of the House of Representatives’ Finance Committee, Abdellah Bouanou: the number of gas stations in the country has increased by 12 percent since liberalization.
“Afriquia has nearly 22% of the stations followed by Vivo Energy (Shell) with 14% and Total with 12.5%. Petrom, Ziz, Winxo and Libya Oil follow with shares between 7.5% and 8.7%.”
He explained that some companies’ “profits went from 300 million dirhams to 900 million dirhams between 2015 and 2016 thanks to the liberalization of fuel prices.”