The news about the exceptional aid granted to race horses stirred nationwide uproar, with people criticizing the comparatively small stipends for people affected by COVID-19.
Rabat – Morocco’s Ministry of Agriculture issued a press release in the evening of May 10 to deny it gave a grant to the Royal Society of Horse Encouragement (SOREC) for racehorses that are no longer earning money for their owners.
On Sunday evening, Moroccans, including journalists, wrote and shared posts mocking the ministry after news outlet Al Youm 24 published a news story based on leaked information of SOREC receiving MAD 1,250 ($127) per horse amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The sum is higher than the amount the government has allocated for people who lost income due to the pandemic crisis.
Workers who lost their jobs can get stipends ranging between MAD 800 ($81) and 1,200 ($122) from Morocco’s insurance funds, like the National Social Security Fund (CNSS) and Medical Assistance Plan (RAMED), which received support from the Special Fund for the Management and Response to COVID-19.
The amount of the stipend depends on the number of family members. A family of four receives a stipend of MAD 1,200, and the amount decreases with smaller families. Thousands of people who have registered for stipends have not even received aid yet.
The claim race horses would receive compensation generated controversy online.
Within a few hours after the news started gaining momentum on social media, the ministry issued a press release to deny the “rumors.” The ministry acknowledged, however, it did receive funding requests from SOREC.
“The news circulating about aid for horses amid the current health crisis is not true,” claimed the ministry.
Run by billionaire Aziz Akhannouch, the Ministry of Agriculture claimed it made no budget allocation for SOREC.
A MAY 7 statement from SOREC that has gone viral online, however, expresses the company’s gratitude to the ministry for granting their request.
The statement, whose authenticity is unclear, reads, “We are honored to inform all of the professionals at race and show fields that the Ministry of Agriculture … decided to allocate an exceptional aid to all horses participating in courses or show courses.”
The conflicting statements have spread confusion among internet users and journalists, with many casting doubt on the credibility of the Ministry of Agriculture’s assertions.
The head of Akhbar Al Youm, Younes Maskine, wrote that while SOREC informed its members of the ministry’s approval of compensation for racehorses, the department denies it.
“A new distribution of public money has been thwarted, and may God reward those who leaked this info,” he wrote.
Maskine sarcastically said that SOREC should now look for other income sources to satisfy “angry horse owners” due to the suspension of races and betting.