Moroccan Government Wants to Reduce Regional Inequalities

Rabat - Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani has stated his cabinet is seeking to reduce regional inequalities by allocating MAD 5 billion to rehabilitate poor and remote areas.

Speaking during his monthly question session in front of members of Parliament, El Othmani said that this development program is not related to the ongoing protests in the northern city of Al Hoceima, where demonstrations have been held for months calling for development projects to end what they call the “marginalization” of the area.

El Othmani said it is the government’s duty to reach out to citizens in underprivileged areas, whether they are protesting or not.

However, the Head of Government admitted that investments are directed to the richest regions. This problem is not limited to Morocco, El Othmani suggest, but affects all countries.

“We are trying to convince investors to invest in poor and remote areas, but they mostly prefer big, coastal and near-by ports cities,” he said.

He went on to add that the government has set a goal to ensure the bare minimum of development for impoverished regions.

As he pointed out, development indicators still divide Moroccan regions into areas with concrete fairly acceptable development pace and other ones with no manifest development.

“We have to give poor and remote regions their rights in terms of development through building up roads, health services and schools.”

Protests in Al Hoceima and its surrounding areas brought back the debate about regional disparities in Morocco.

In May, anger spread to other regions with fewer economic opportunities than the Kingdom’s major cities. People took to the streets in Sidi Kacem, Khouribga, Ain Taoujdate, and other towns in protest against lack of health services and job opportunities.

Regional disparities were one of the causes of Arab Spring, when a young Tunisian street vendor, Tarek Bouazizi, set himself on fire in the small city of Sidi Bouzid in December 2010 as a reaction to the confiscation of his wheelbarrow and mistreatment in the police station.

In a similar incident, protests erupted in Al Hoceima in October 2016 after a local fish vendor, Mouhcine Fikiri, was crushed to death by a garbage truck compactor when he tried to retrieve fish merchandise law enforcement officers had confiscated and tossed into the truck.




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