According to Elalamy, several factory owners attempted to exploit the high demand for face masks to boost their profits.
Rabat – The distribution of Moroccan-made face masks to sales outlets across the country has faced several challenges, notably the greed of some business owners, admitted Morocco’s Minister of Industry, Investment, Trade, and Digital Economy Moulay Hafid Elalamy.
The minister made a statement explaining the shortage of face masks in Moroccan markets on Thursday, April 23, during a meeting with the Finance Committee at the House of Representatives.
After fixing the retail unit price of face masks at MAD 0.8 (nearly $0.1), the ministry detected several fraud attempts in industrial production units that hoped to enlarge their profit margin by selling masks to distributors that are willing to pay higher prices.
To address the infractions, the Ministry of Industry provided a list of approved distributors for the production units to work with. Several business owners then protested the government’s interference in their internal affairs, leading to a delay in the distribution of masks.
Elalamy agreed that the government should not interfere in the transactions of production units under normal circumstances. However, the country is in a state of emergency and the government has every right to implement exceptional measures to protect citizens and their health, he explained.
“Factories belong to Moroccans. If needed, we can requisition them to preserve citizens’ health,” Elalamy warned.
In addition to providing a list of certified distributors to production units, the ministry has mobilized staff to monitor the production of face masks at all times on a shift basis to avoid any infractions, he added.
The distributors certified by the ministry have already developed a supply plan to make face masks available in 66,000 sales outlets across the country and to avoid any shortage, the minister continued.
Despite the challenges that left millions of face masks in storage, distribution logistics are improving and the Moroccan market will not face shortages of face masks in the near future, Elalamy assured.
The minister revealed that 17 factories are currently operating day and night to produce face masks, while two production units did not receive authorization to make masks because they did not meet the quality standards set by the ministry.
“We are ready to support every company wishing to produce masks, but on the condition of respecting the norms,” said Elalamy.
“Some investors’ requests were declined after they presented fake tests. The instructions are clear. The priority is the health of citizens,” he continued.
Morocco has produced approximately 82 million protective masks as of April 22, revealed the minister.
The country boosted its production of face masks by transforming the production lines of several textile companies to exclusively produce medical protective gear.
On April 7, the Moroccan government announced that wearing medical masks in public spaces and in the workplace is mandatory.
The decision came as Morocco had confirmed 1,000 COVID-19 cases, to help curb the spread of the pandemic.
As of 10 a.m. on April 24, the country has recorded 3,692 COVID-19 cases, including 478 recoveries and 155 deaths.