The increase in budget comes after a year marked by demonstrations about the state of the education and health sectors.
Rabat – Morocco’s Minister of Economy, Finance, and Administrative Reform, Mohamed Benchaaboun, announced yesterday, October 21, the budget allocations for key sectors in the 2020 appropriation bill (PLF).
The minister made the announcement during a plenary session in the parliament, chaired by the House of Representatives’ president, Habib El Malki, and the House of Councillors’ president, Hakim Benchamach.
Health and Education
The 2020 budget for the three sectors is about MAD 13 billion more than the 2019 education, scientific research, and health budget.
The budget for education and scientific research will go from MAD 62 billion in 2019 to MAD 72.4 billion for 2020, representing a 16.75% increase. Meanwhile the health budget is set to increase by 14.41%, from MAD 16.3 billion to MAD 18.7 billion.
The increased budget aims to support reforms in these vital sectors after a series of strikes and manifestations.
Throughout 2019, demonstrators have deplored the quality of Moroccan schools, universities, and hospitals. Both doctors and teachers boycotted their places of work and took to the streets, demanding tangible changes in the health and education sectors.
The bill also aims to create 20,000 jobs in the three sectors. The health sector will account for 4,000 new jobs, and education and scientific research will account for a further 16,000.
The new positions represent 46% of the total of the positions forecast by Moroccan government for 2020. The PLF aims to create more than 43,000 new positions in total in the upcoming year.
An additional MAD 3.5 billion will go to initiatives aiming to prevent students from dropping out of school, especially in rural areas, by providing support to their families. The initiatives include “Tayssir” initiative, giving parents financial support to keep their children in school, “One million schoolbags” initiative, and school buses in rural areas.
The official also announced the cancellation of value-added taxes (VAT) on vaccines, to make them more affordable for low-income households.
Moroccans’ Purchasing Power
Aiming to alleviate the financial pressure on Moroccan citizens, the minister announced the allocation of MAD 26 billion to support Moroccans’ purchasing power.
The MAD 26 billion budget is divided into several categories. Around MAD 14.6 billion will go into the preexisting compensation fund, maintaining the relatively low prices of butane gas, sugar, and flour for consumers.
The compensation fund helps reduce the prices of these essential products through financing their transportation and distribution, for butane gas, and through importing them from international markets and selling them to distributors for lowered prices, in the case of sugar and flour.
The minister added that the 2020 bill allocates MAD 630 million to supporting widows, and MAD 200 million for people with disabilities. This budget will go towards building social centers for people in precarious situations. It will also finance a project of monthly allowances for people with special needs, if the government decides to implement it.
The National Initiative for Human Development (INDH), an initiative aiming to help Moroccans start their own income generating activities, will receive MAD 2.2 billion.
Finally, the 2020 PLF allocates MAD 7.4 billion for the fight against social and territorial disparities.
The 2020 budget announcement comes as the 2019’s second quarter household survey, conducted by the High Commission for Planning (HCP), showed that the index of household confidence is continuously declining. The index is based on the standard of living, the rate of unemployment, the opportunity to buy durable goods, and the financial situation of Moroccan households.
Arts, Culture and Sports
Benchaaboun also announced the 2020 allocations for arts, culture, and sports in the formation of human values within the younger generations.
As part of the budget allocations, VAT on tickets to museums, cinemas, and theaters will go down from 20% to 10%.
The government will also provide help to sports associations, mainly football clubs playing in Botola Pro, allowing them to transform into companies, through fiscal reductions.
The budget announcement comes after a long year of demonstrations and protests across several sectors. It remains to be seen whether the money the newly reshuffled government is injecting into education, health, and purchasing power will have the desired impact.