“Around 1.6 million Moroccans are living in poverty, while three Moroccan billionaires’ wealth is estimated at $4.5 billion,” the NGO says, condemning disparities in Morocco.
The report is in line with a campaign under the theme “An egalitarian Morocco, a fair taxation.”
In its report, Oxfam notes that the “gap between the richest and poorest continues to widen at the global level, and Morocco is not immune to this trend.”
Oxfam found that it would take 154 years for a normal employee to earn what a Moroccan billionaire receives in 12 months.
“In 2018, the three richest Moroccan billionaires alone have a wealth estimated at $4.5 billion,” said the report, a possible reference to Morocco’s Minister of Agriculture Aziz Akhannouch, BMCE Bank CEO Othman Benjelloun, and real estate magnate Anas Sefrioui.
On the other hand, the report said that “1.6 million people are in poverty, and one Moroccan out of eight is in a situation of vulnerability.”
An advocacy and campaign manager at Oxfam Maroc, Abdeljalil Laroussi, said that “inequalities in the kingdom are not a coincidence. They are the result of inadequate public policies and encouraged by international institutions.”
Laroussi said that “since independence, Morocco has adopted growth models that are deepening inequalities and putting a large part of the population in a situation of extreme vulnerability.”
Laaroussi added, “Inequalities slow down the fight against poverty, undermine growth and exacerbate social tensions.”
Injustice in tax
While speaking of poverty and unemployment, the report focused on disparities in tax payments because of the upcoming Assizes of Taxes May 3-4.
A total of “82% of corporate tax revenues come from only 2% of companies. The amount of tax losses suffered by Morocco each year due to the tax practices of multinational [companies] is $2.45 billion.”
“Tax justice is an excellent way of social cohesion. It helps to correct inequalities by redistributing wealth when it is badly distributed initially, and to raise the resources needed to finance infrastructure and public services that benefit the entire community,” said the head of the Oxfam Governance Program in Morocco, Asmae Bouslmati.
Bouslmati also quoted Article 39 of the Moroccan 2011 Constitution, which she said guarantees the “equality of citizens under taxes, which must be paid according to the contributor’s capacity.”
Oxfam also shared alarming statistics on unemployment, emphasizing that urban youth (15-24) unemployment is 42.8%.
Public service deficiencies referred to in the report also includes the lack of doctors in Morocco.
“Morocco has only 6.2 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants, compared with 12 in Algeria and 37.1 in Tunisia.”
The report also warned that nearly half of the working population (46%) do not have medical coverage and women’s pensions are 70% lower than men’s. Moroccan women spend an average of five hours a day on domestic work, compared to 43 minutes for men.
The report added that only 64% of residents are connected to plumbing with drinkable water.
Oxfam asked the government and institutions to adopt concrete and ambitious measures to fight inequalities and poverty.
Oxfam also called for the development of an urgent national plan against inequalities and a quantified goal for reducing inequalities by 2030.
The North African country has been experiencing a number of protests, including demonstrations against social inequalities.
In 2016 and 2017, a popular movement, called the Hirak, erupted in the northern Al Hoceima province, where thousands of citizens rallied calling for justice and condemning lack of hospitals, universities, and employment.
The Hirak movement was followed by several other protests, including protests to condemn lack of drinking water in the south of the country.
Morocco also experienced a set of protests in 2018 and 2019, particularly the protests of contractual teachers and doctors. Recently, at least 400 doctors resigned to condemn the poor working conditions at Moroccan hospitals.