While Morocco’s Competition Council reviews a fuel price cap, the government spokesperson is defending government measures at the House of Councilors.
By Carolina McCabe
Rabat – In the House of Councilors on Tuesday, the Moroccan Workers’ Union (UMT) raised concerns that fuel prices are rising due to lobbying, speculation, and monopolies. Government Spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi responded that price fluctuations are a result of price freedom and competition.
El Khalfi stated that the government is actively working to increase the purchasing power of Moroccan citizens in various ways. He cited the expansion of the Tayssir program for school enrollment aid, an increase in benefits for widows, vocational training and university scholarships, and aid for poor women.
El Khalfi attributed speculation as a prominent reason for weakened purchasing power of Moroccan citizens. He also stated that the government has been working to prevent speculation to protect consumers.
Despite a drop in oil prices in the international market during the final months of 2018, many fuel companies in Morocco did not lower prices according to Moroccans’ expectations. In December, the minister of general affairs and governance, Lahcen Daoudi, called for a cap on fuel prices.
The Competition Council is examining a potential fuel price cap and will deliver its opinion on February 14. The proposed price cap would last for a 6 month period.
Article 1 of Law 104-12 stipulates, “The prices of goods, products and services are determined by free competition.” However, the government has the power to regulate prices in certain circumstances. Daoudi proposed the temporary price cap because of the significant influence of fuel prices on other market goods and services.
Following global trends, fuel prices fluctuated throughout 2018, and high prices angered Moroccan citizens into boycotting a major gas company. The boycott blamed companies for manipulating Morocco’s markets with rising commodity prices.