Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Moroccan News Briefs #77

Moroccan middle class faces new tax burden

The draft 2013 Finance Act includes a new solidarity tax. According to Magharebia, he opposition views the proposal as an attack on the middle class.

Morocco's 2013 Finance Act is not yet law, but one provision is already sparking widespread criticism from opposition legislators. Their main complaint about the draft law presented in parliament on Wednesday (October 24th) is a new solidarity tax on those with monthly earnings of 25,000 dirhams (2,250 euros) or more.

The tax hike on the highest earners aims to boost to the Social Cohesion Fund of 2012, which covers the new RAMED medical assistance programme for citizens with special needs and finances education initiatives. A proportional rate of 3% will apply to those with annual incomes between 300,000 and 600,000 dirhams per year. Higher earners will be subject to a 5% rate.

But according to the leader of the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) in the House of Councillors, Hakim Benchemmas, the move will hit the middle class the hardest. It will also fail to fulfil the government's commitments, he said.

Chaoui Belassel, the Constitutional Union party leader in the Chamber of Representatives, agrees, arguing that the measure aims to support the needy at the expense of the middle class.

Many workers also disapprove of the proposal and hope that the opposition will be able to amend it.

The government's increase to fuel prices has already had an effect on other items, critics of the new tax measure say. Ahmed Sellami, who works for a company, feels that the proposed solidarity tax will be yet another burden for many households.

"I earn 30,000 dirhams. I have to support my parents and my two unemployed brothers, as well as my small family. I pay school fees for my three children and I have to pay off my loans. That leaves me unable to save anything," he told Magharebia.

Driss Azami El Idrissi, the minister delegate responsible for the budget, has insisted that everyone must pull together in the current economic situation. Businesses, he explained, will also contribute to the Social Cohesion Fund.

Euro Millions site hacked by Moroccans

Members of the Moroccan Ghosts hacker collective recently defaced the Web site for France's Euromillions lottery with a message condemning gambling.

"The messages appeared in Arabic and French and blocked the homepage of the lottery in France. ... The French version of the message said: 'Oh you believers. Wine, games of chance, statues all augur impurity and are the work of the devil,'" AFP reports. "It exhorted people to quit gambling, saying it was used by the devil along with alcohol to 'sow hatred between yourselves and turn you away from God and prayer.'"

"The Moroccan Ghosts are a group of hackers founded in 2012," writes Softpedia's Eduard Kovacs. "Their objectives are not only to defend their country and its king, but also to militate for territorial unity."

Death of a cocaine smuggler

A forty-seven year old Nigerian who died at the airport in Casablanca was found to have 76 capsules of cocaine in his stomach. A Nigerian national died last weekend at his arrival at the airport Mohammed V, following the bursting of capsules of cocaine he had in the intestine. The information was given to the media by an airport security sources. The victim was in transit from a flight from Doha to Casablanca, with an onward ticket to Benin. According to the security source, "the passenger appeared uncomfortable due to severe abdominal pain, before suddenly vanishing in the departure lounge."

Eid Al-Adha in Morocco's prisons

Some 979 sheep and 11 calves were killed in prisons throughout Morocco on the occasion of Eid Al Adha. According to the Delegation General for Prison Administration and Reintegration (DAPR) several institutions and public and private institutions in addition to the central administration of the DAPR had donated sheep and cattle for the benefit of various penitentiaries. The donations came from both local and district government as well as many private sector firms and individuals.

Villagers drive out prostitutes

Writing in the New York Times, Suzanne Daley reports that local groups in the village of Ain Leuh have made a stand against prostitution. According to Daley, for years, this mountain village with its crumbling whitewashed walls was known as the place to go for sex - a Moroccan version of Amsterdam’s red-light district.

Now a group of men here, known as "the Islamists", have taken matters into their own hands.

The men deny that they were on a religious campaign, or that they are fanatics. They were tired, they said, of living side by side with drunken, brawling clients, tired of having their daughters propositioned as they headed home from school, tired of being embarrassed about where they lived.

“It reached a point after Ramadan,” said Mohammed Aberbach, 41, who helped organize the campaign to drive the prostitutes out of town, “that men were actually waiting in lines. It was crazy.”

The changes in Ain Leuh are being held up by some in Morocco as another triumph of the Arab Spring — testament to what can happen when ordinary citizens stand up for change and make life better for themselves.

For others, however, the events of the past year show how the more fundamentalist Islamists, though continuing to be shut out of power in countries like Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco, nonetheless manage to promote their conservative agendas — often taking the law into their own hands, and in this case threatening the prostitutes and their customers and driving away the only industry in these parts.

“The economy is in free fall here,” said Ali Adnane, who works for a rural development agency. “The girls rented. They had cash. They bought things. Some people here are really happy about the changes. But some people are not.”

Full story here: New York Times

Moroccan Agriculture Fair in Agadir

From 6th to 9th December 2012, at the Expo Park Agadir, various members of the fruit and vegetables industry will get together for the 10th edition of this annual event. The meeting is supported by APEFEL and by the Council of the Moroccan region of Souss Massa Draa and supervised by the Minister of Moroccan Agriculture. This 10th edition will extend over a covered exhibition area of 30.000 square metres.

Producers, growers, distribuitors, researchers and many more will meet to discuss current conditions, to share news concerning production and to think about new strategies for the future. The fair expects to have representatives in attendance of Companies from over 15 different nations.

The Agadir fair in 2011
The fair in Agadir will also support the initiative made by the government to develop the sector Maroc Vert - Green Morocco.

And now the weather...

Mohamed Belouchi, from the National Bureau of Meteorology says we can expect continuous rain showers until Friday with disturbed and unstable conditions. Heavy rainfall of up to 50 to 80 millimeters is predicted all week. The adverse weather is a result of atmospheric disturbances in western Europe.

Fez should return to sunny conditions on Saturday, with a high of around 25 degrees Celsius. However before that the temperatures will be between 14 (night) and 23 (day). Rabat continues with showers and a range of 18 to 22 until partly sunny conditions on Saturday. Casablanca can expect the same conditions as Rabat. However, Tangiers can expect wet weather right through until Sunday. Marrakech should improve to a few sun showers by Thursday and fine through next weekend with temperatures between 17 and 28.


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