2024 Finance bill sparks heated debate, Lekjaa defends economic measures

2024 Finance bill sparks heated debate, Lekjaa defends economic measures

The government’s economic and social policies came under fire from the opposition in a session dedicated to discussing the 2024 Finance Bill in the House of Representatives on Tuesday. 

The Socialist group criticized these policies calling them odious liberalism and accusing the government of revealing its true liberal face through its new approach to direct social support.

Said Baaziz, a member of the Socialist group, denounced the government’s decision to phase out subsidies and increase taxes on commonly consumed goods, arguing that these measures could result in higher poverty rates and the erosion of the middle class.

He questioned how the government could justify providing citizens with MAD 600 as direct support while simultaneously imposing a MAD 1500 increase in prices, labeling it a policy that targets the poor.

Baaziz further warned that such policies could lead to increased social protests.

On the other hand, Fouzi Lekjaa, the Minister Delegate responsible for the budget, vehemently defended the 2024 Finance Bill, especially the direct social support and reform of compensation fund.

Lekjaa explained that the government had carefully examined more than 140 social support programs, keeping the ones with significant social impact and consolidating others as part of a government agreement.

Lekjaa emphasized that the result analysis, dating as far back as 2010, revealed that the funds allocated to the compensation fund did not effectively reach the intended beneficiaries, which are the poor.

Lekjaa pointed out that the most vulnerable groups, constituting 20 percent of the population, only received 14 percent of the allocated funds, which amounted to MAD 2.7 billion annually. While the top 20 percent of the population, considered affluent, received 27 percent of the support, equaling MAD 47 billion out of a total of 147 billion, representing double what the poor received.

Regarding the changes in compensation, Lekjaa explained that 60 percent of the population that benefited from the program, amounting to MAD 8 billion, would see an increase starting in 2024. 

The key question was whether the MAD 104 billion provided to the affluent should continue, or alternative solutions should be explored. In this regard, the government decided to gradually reduce this support, ending it in 2026.

The minister revealed that consecutive governments had allocated MAD 174 billion from 2015 to 2023, averaging MAD 19.4 billion annually.

The minister further elaborated that 60 percent of Moroccan households previously benefiting from MAD 8 billion in compensation would receive MAD 25 billion starting in January 2026, which would increase to MAD 29 billion for the same social classes, or a significant portion of them.

Gradually reducing the compensation fund’s support for vulnerable Moroccan groups would lead to a loss of MAD 36 for them, compared to the financial assistance they would receive, which ranges from MAD 500 to 1758 depending on individual cases.

The state also allocated MAD 10 billion for mandatory health insurance, covering more than 4.1 million households. 

The mandatory health innsurance concerns two-thirds of Morocco’s population, and seeks to grant them access to the same health rights enjoyed by one-third of the population since Morocco’s independence.


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