On 14 April the Kingdom officially inaugurated its new Social Security Programme in a launch ceremony at the Royal Palace in Fez which was presided over by King Mohamed VI.
The programme — which Economy and Finance Minister, Mohamed Benchaaboun, described as a ‘social revolution’ — is aimed at improving the lot of the poorest in Moroccan society who currently have very little or no social protection. In particular it is targeted at farmers, artisanal and craft workers, and those working as freelancers in the service sector. The programme is not only about ameliorating living conditions for the poor but also about bringing the informal sector into the formal economy.
This initiative is the project of the King, who in 2018, called for a major review of the country’s social security system. At the time a report produced by the Economic, Social and Environmental Council revealed shockingly high numbers of vulnerable citizens working in the informal sector who had no access to social protection, including pensions and healthcare insurance.
In his 2020 Throne Day speech, Mohamed VI reiterated his call for universal health care and for social protection. He also announced the launching of a ‘decisive process’ to expand social welfare coverage. Since then, this programme has been in the making, with the necessary legislation passed by both houses of parliament earlier this year.
This project has four phases that are spread over five years. Phase One in 2021-2022 will extend basic health insurance to an additional 22 million Moroccans and will cover treatment, medicine and hospitalisation costs.
Phase Two will extend from 2023-2024 and will entail providing family allowance payments and target seven million children. Phase Three, which will take place in 2025, will expand the number of Moroccans registered with the pension scheme including five million who work but who are not due to receive any pension payments. Finally, Phase Four will provide compensation to individuals who lose their jobs and simplify the conditions that must be met in order for people to qualify.
The whole programme will cost US$5.7 billion a year, of which US$2.5 billion will be financed by the state budget while the remainder will be drawn from a range of sources including contributions and tax revenues. As such, this is a major endeavour that has been warmly welcomed by the trade unions and others across the board, and should make tangible changes to the lives of some of the poorest families in the kingdom.
Under the auspices of this programme, Morocco is going to open up its health sector for investment. In a presentation at the launch ceremony, Benchaaboun explained that some of the challenges facing the health sector will be met by opening it up to foreign investment and experts. Morocco currently needs an additional 35,000 doctors and 57,000 nurses in order to meet the World Health Organisation’s standards, so foreign medical experts will be permitted to settle in Morocco and work in its health sector.