In Morocco, the Moroccan Prime Minister was accused of conflicting interests amid high fuel prices

Rising fuel prices in Morocco have reignited the controversy over conflicts of interest between business and politics, exposing Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch, the oil tycoon, to heavy criticism.

For the first time since the war in Ukraine, Mr. Akhannouch had to explain himself to parliament last week about the sharp rise in food and fuel prices (14 dirhams per liter of diesel at the pump, or 1.32 euros, a record for a month. Minimum wage increases slightly about 260 euros). At the heart of the parliamentary debate: the request to limit margins “expensive” fuel distributors.

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On the defensive, Mr. Akhannouch, a businessman who built his fortune on the distribution of fuel, described him as ” Lying “ earnings “leaked” The deputies denounced it, asserting that they are Almost the same since 1997.. If his position is not under threat, the prime minister will be in the hot seat due to his dual role as political leader and major shareholder in Afriquia, the domestic hydrocarbon market leader with Total and Shell. Under pressure, his government issued a €200 million envelope in favor of road transport companies in order to quell their anger.

‘Excessive’ margins

Consumer prices (+3.3% for January and February 2022 YoY) will continue to rise “Levels above the average of the last decade”HCP warned. The result: the morale of Moroccan families has been recorded since the beginning of the year Lowest level since 2008.according to HCP.

This is not the first time that Morocco, which is dependent on oil and gas imports, has gone through such a crisis, but until 2015 the state subsidized gasoline and diesel at the pump. A guarantee of “social peace” for decades, this subsidy was buried in 2015 due to its high cost to state coffers. At that time, the government planned to compensate it with monthly direct financial aid to the poor, an unprecedented support.

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In 2018, three years after market liberalization, a scandal erupted: in a parliamentary report, fuel distributors were accused of making profit margins Excessive, extreme, recklessAgainst the background of denunciations of the cost of living on social networks. Africa’s President and Agriculture Minister Aziz Akhannouch finds himself in the dock, exemplifying the complicity between the business world and the ruling class.

The competition board that was busted in July 2020 struck an agreement between the oil giants. The fines fall on the three companies Afriquia, Total and Shell of up to 9% of their annual sales. But, accused of irregularities in the procedures, King Mohammed VI sacked the head of the council, Idriss El Karaoui. Penalties will not be applied.

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Since liberation, distributors’ profits have arrived “More than 45 billion dirhams [4,25 milliards d’euros] Until 2021 »Hussain Al-Yamani, representative of the Democratic Union of Labor, is incensed.

“Whatever the source of the rise in the price of a barrel – war, shortage, pandemic – distributors are taking their profits as if nothing had happened.”I recently denounced the weekly without change. This newspaper, which was titled “Akhnoush’s Mysterious Game”, featured two pictures on its cover, one serious and the other smiling: “negative head of government” And Happy businessman. There is a clear conflict of interest within the government.estimated by the economic expert, Muhammad bin Musa, quoting from without change.

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It also criticized the executive branch of “inability” Restarting the kingdom’s only refinery, located in Mohammedia, has been under liquidation since 2018. For trade unionist Hussein Al Yamani, it must either be nationalized or facilitate its takeover. restart it “It will reduce prices by more than one dirham per liter.”he argues, given that Imported crude oil is cheaper [que le raffiné] And that its storage capacity is greater than that of the oil companies.. However, Akhannouch’s government has not yet shown any willingness to respond to this call.

The world with AFP

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