(Magharebia.com)

Moroccan retired workers have been waiting for a reform for years. With the Justice and Development Party (PJD), many hope that their wait will be over.

Challenges to revamping the system, however, abound. The reform process has been long and tedious. A commission was set up nine years ago to draw up reform plans but no final solution was agreed on due to “the lack of political courage”, according to the then-opposition PJD.

The government will soon put in place an agreement with its social partners, Economy and Finance Minister Nizar Baraka vowed.

“We’re going to work with our social partners to ensure that the findings from the technical studies on the issue are implemented, particularly the introduction of a unified system and the creation of a second additional sector-based level,” he explained.

The minister referred to a recent study published by the High Commission for Planning (HCP). According to the May 8th report, social security provision is under threat and required urgent action.

A technical commission is working on the matter, Baraka said. Consultations between the government and its social partners have intensified over recent months to examine the various reform proposals.

“This work cannot be put off any longer,” the minister emphasised.

Resources in the Moroccan Pension Fund (CMR) are expected to run dry in 2019. Those in the fund for private sector workers (CNSS) and inter-professional pension fund (CIMR) will run out in 2060.

However, in the shorter term, the main concern is how to manage the deficit. The CMR will start eating into its reserves as soon as this year, according to projections.

The government needs to choose between the various reform scenarios on the table. They include gradually raising of the retirement age to 65 at a rate of six months per year or increasing pension contributions to 26% at a rate of 2% per year. Another alternative is to calculate pensions on the basis of the average salary over the last eight years.

The HCP has also proposed other measures, such as massive recruitment of women into the labour market to improve the employment rate, increasing the legal retirement age to 62 instead of 60 and forcing new workers to contribute to a pension fund.
MP Abdelaziz Omari said the government needs to work on the pensions issue to ensure the system’s future and guarantee a decent retirement for the generations to come.

This is the demand from retired workers, who struggle to make ends meet. Mohamed Houari, who belongs to the Democratic Retirement Organisation, said that a great many Arab countries such as Tunisia and Algeria have raised pensions, but Moroccan pensioners suffer from marginalisation.

Pensioner Driss Choauri argued the government needs to raise minimum pensions, bringing them into line with the national minimum wage in both the private and public sectors.

“I only get 1000 dirhams a month, and I still have to provide for my two boys, who are unemployed. I’ve worked for years, but at the end of the day what I get is chicken feed,” he complained.