The decision, though framed as a result of internal debate, comes after Moroccan citizens and activists called on the government to reduce Parliamentarians’ pensions.
Rabat – Morocco’s parliamentary groups and caucus have agreed to liquidate the pension system for the members of the House of Representatives.
Speaker of the House of Representatives Habib El Malki met Wednesday with the chairpersons of Morocco’s parliamentary groups and caucus, as well as some officials from the Deposit and Management Fund (CDG).
The meeting set out to review the latest developments in managing “the pensions issue,” according to a statement from the House of Representatives.
The statement said Morocco’s pension system for parliamentarians has witnessed a “serious shortfall” since 2017 that has inhibited the payment of pensions.
The participants in the meeting discussed the Parliament’s history and contributions to Moroccan politics and society before turning to a detailed presentation on the pension system that benefits the members of the House of Representatives.
The presentation included data on the “nature of the system, its resources, expenditures, technical structure, demographic and financial indicators,” the statement said.
Notably, the presentation showed the imbalance between the system’s resources and expenditures.
Given the imbalance and the “the spirit of national debate” over the pension system between the House components and the Finance and Economic Development Committee, the meeting’s attendees agreed to permanently liquidate the pension system for the members of the House of Representatives.
The speaker of the House and the chairpersons of the parliamentary groups and caucus committed to implementing measures and drafting a legal framework to this end.
While the press release noted the “debate” between government bodies as a driving force behind the decision, Morocco’s pension system for parliamentarians has also faced criticism from citizens and activists.
The controversy of Morocco’s pension system
Moroccan social media users recently called on the government to reduce the compensation and pension for members of Parliament (MPs). Critics say many Moroccan MPs are not efficiently fulfilling their role and cost the state more than it can afford to spend, especially given the current COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis.
They condemned some political parties’ interest in adding more parliamentary seats, arguing that there are already enough Parliamentarians and some are “always absent.”
The criticism invoked the fury of MP Driss Azami Al-Idrissi of the ruling Justice and Development Party (PJD), who framed the calls as “abhorrent populism.”
Azami, a former minister delegate and current mayor of Fez, responded to the demands by asking, “Do you want us to work for biliki?” The word “biliki” is a common term in Morocco and in this context, it translates as “work for free.”
“Do you want MPs, the government, governors, workers, presidents, and employees to work for free without payment at the end of the month? Do you want them to not find anything to feed their children?”
The average income a typical Moroccan MP takes home each month is close to $3,907, according to recent information from Progress and Socialism Party member Rachid Hamouni.
In contrast, the typical Moroccan worker earns between $350 and $900 per month. Some take home less than $300 per month.
Moroccans are struggling to recover from the economic setbacks brought on by the COVID-19 crisis and lockdown. The move to abolish the pension system for the members of Morocco’s House of Representatives may be welcome news for the critics frustrated with the country’s glaring wealth disparity.