Moroccan freight truckers on strike
Consumer goods will not be reaching Moroccan markets this week, as the country's freight carriers strike on Monday and Tuesday to protest a government increase in the prices of petroleum products.
Users of public transport will also have to cancel trips because of the strike declared by the Moroccan freight transport association and the public transport federation. Mr. Abdelmalek Erradi, President of the freight transport association told reporters on Saturday that the strike will be open and risks to go beyond Monday and Tuesday if the government does not cancel its decision to hike petroleum products prices.
Petroleum products prices were increased by 4.8 to 10.8 percent as of last Saturday. The price of a liter of diesel went up by 9.3 percent to stand at 5.76 dirhams/liter ($1=DH10), ordinary petrol was increased by 9.8 percent (DH8.65/liter) and high-grade petrol by 10.8 percent (DH9.05/liter).
The price of industrial fuel went up by 4.8 percent to stand at over DH2,301 a ton. Domestic gas, which is widely used by Moroccan households, was increased from DH40 a tank to DH42.
The authorities had said the fuel price hike should have been over 50 percent, but the government had to take into account the population's purchasing power. Morocco, which imports all its energy needs, pays more than $600 million for the purchase of oil and gas.
According to Mr. Erradi the new hike adds to the transporters problems, including high taxes. The government's decision to increase fuel prices had triggered the anger of several professional associations.
The Moroccan association of fruit producers and exporters (APEFEL) denounced the government decision and warned that the hike will have " serious consequences", as it (the hike) is a "fatal blow for the fruit market."
The heavily indebted small producers will not survive this measure," said the association, adding that farmers are mobilized to express their anger at the measure.
The association, which defends fruit producers' interests, called on the authorities to cancel the increase move and to set up a compensation system.
The Moroccan Consumers Protection Association (LNPC) joined the mobilization against the government's move. "It is astonishing to see the government increase fuel prices, while we were expecting it to increase salaries," it said.
The hike will be an additional burden for household, who are readying to pay for their children's new school year that begins early next week.
The Association urged the authorities to show more keenness and cancel the hike to preserve Moroccans' weak purchasing power.
The Confederation Democratique du Travail (CDT) trade union, which is close to the Socialist Union of Popular Forces of Premier Abderrahmane Youssoufi) also decried the government's decision to enforce fuel prices raise. The move "will reflect in a hike in other products prices and will adversely impact the labor classes purchasing power," it said. –(Albawaba-MEBG)
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)