Africa News Bulletin

Morocco to help transporters over fuel price spike

Morocco is to provide financial support to transport workers due to high fuel costs, the transport minister said Monday, after protests last week following a price spike spurred by the Ukraine conflict.

“We are studying subsidies for those working in the sector… who are facing exceptional circumstances,” Mohamed Abdeljalil said in comments carried by the MAP news agency.

He was speaking after a meeting that followed protests and a strike last week by transport workers demanding price controls.

The Moroccan government has faced weeks of pressure over rising prices, in a country heavily dependent on imports of energy and cereals.

Both oil and wheat prices have surged since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, although oil fell back on Monday, amid fresh talks seeking to resolve that conflict and concerns about demand sparked by a coronavirus lockdown in Shenzhen in China.

MAP said the Moroccan government and unions had agreed to continue talks “to set conditions for the subsidies and the amounts” to be distributed to transport workers, within two weeks.

The minister of state for the budget, Fouzi Lekjaa, told local radio the government was planning to release an emergency 15 billion dirhams ($1.5 billion) “to preserve citizens’ buying power”.

Morocco subsidizes flour and household gas but scrapped fuel subsidies following an earlier price hike in 2015.

The government had vowed to ease the pain by making direct payments to the neediest families, but the system was never put in place.

Since the subsidies were removed, unions and opposition parties have called for price caps and limits to the profit margins of fuel retailers – including market leader Afriquia, owned by Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch.

On top of economic woes caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Morocco’s vital agricultural sector is also facing its worst drought in decades.

Africa Insider

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