Pension reform reclaims Morocco centre stage
By Siham Ali for Magharebia in Rabat – 14/07/10
The debate over pension reform in Morocco has begun again. Since the proposal was made in June to raise the retirement age to 62 starting next year, with the stated purpose of ensuring the pension fund's financial stability, public-sector workers and union leaders have voiced strong opposition.
According to Mohamed Hakech of the Moroccan Workers Union, the Moroccan Pension Fund governing council proposal runs contrary to the work of the technical committee that is examining the question of pension reform.
"On what basis are they going to apply a retirement age of 62 for public-sector workers?" he asked. "The technical committee has yet to hand in its work; this is a political proposal they're trying to impose on us."
The long-term solvency of Morocco's pension funds is at risk because the ratio of people working to those in retirement is changing in a demographic shift to an ageing population.
The Moroccan Labour Organisation claims that the government's move to extend the retirement age from 60 to 62 is intended to take money from private and public employees.
This accusation was rejected by Finance Minister Salaheddine Mezouar, who told Parliament on June 29th that the special committee had not yet put the finishing touches on its conclusions.
Mezouar said the government promised to reform the pension system as soon as possible, as it will face serious financial difficulties as early as 2012 if not changed. He anticipated findings from the technical commission as early as September.
"They're looking at a number of different options at the moment, including grouping all the funds into one system or keeping the funds separate," he said. "After the debate on the report, the idea is to implement the reforms in 2011 or 2012."
The General Moroccan Business Confederation (CGEM) is against the proposal, which would see all the funds combined into a single system.
According to Work and Social Relations Committee vice chairman Abdelaziz Alaoui, this would lead to the private sector paying the costs of the public sector. He told the CGEM general assembly in Casablanca on June 24th that the public employees' retirement fund needs more than 500 million dirhams to resolve its problems by 2018.
Meanwhile, public concern is on the rise.
For 42-year-old Samir Bachiri, the idea of raising the retirement age is worrying. He said the public must be properly informed about the different possibilities if they are to understand and accept the decisions which are taken.
"In France, the debate about reforming the pension system has been open and public, and the people have been able to understand the issues involved in reform," he said. "In Morocco, they're keeping it all very vague."
Subscribe to our newsletter and get Magharebia's latest articles delivered to your inbox.