A flaw in Moroccan law is hampering the government's efforts to fight monopoly and speculation by food suppliers who are driving up prices to record highs

El Gobierno marroquí insta a la normalidad asegurando el suministro alimenticio pese a la subida de precios

photo_camera AFP/FADEL SENNA - A woman shops at the central market during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the Moroccan capital Rabat on 6 May 2020

Companies in the food industry have noted loopholes in the law that prevent them from properly combating monopoly and speculation, despite the good faith of the Moroccan government to curb inflation. This is causing citizens to lose purchasing power. 

The executive wanted to avoid at all costs the monopoly of the food production chain in an attempt to contain prices, and these imbalances have had the opposite effect to that intended. The government's action in this situation is limited, but Rabat has called for calm, assuring that the production chain is stable and supply is more than assured. The drawbacks of the current scenario have their origin in the approval of the law that sought to control prices in order to avoid the situation the country is currently experiencing.

Aware of what has happened, the members of parliament are reviewing the texts in order to find a solution to the current dilemma and thus achieve the goal hoped for when the law was passed. For the time being, it has not been possible to establish new legislation; in the meantime, the prices of basic foodstuffs such as vegetables and white meat are being affected by price rises never seen before in the North African country. The problem of monopoly is not a virus that only affects the Alawi kingdom, but a global phenomenon that, in difficult times such as those we are currently experiencing, flourishes even more strongly in the face of citizens' needs.


It is far from inevitable that governments will manage to control this phenomenon. It is very difficult to pretend that a citizen's shopping basket will not be affected as food prices along with production costs rise, along with current energy prices. 

One solution would be to agree on prices and cap them. The law of supply and demand determines prices based on the laws of the market. This law makes it possible for everyone to compete on the fairest possible terms. 

Capping prices can mean that there is not enough stock for everyone and some products, usually the most basic ones, disappear from the market. Mohamed Ghayate, leader of the National Rally for Independents Party, has introduced a bill in parliament that would help the administration control price rises until a conclusive solution to the problem is found. Another member of the government, Noureddine Mudyan, head of the Istiqlal Party bloc, confirmed at a meeting of the Finance and Economic Development Committee that the current situation only benefits companies that are hoarding products and thus playing with the food of the Moroccan people.


The task is far from easy as tracking down all those who are profiting from this is very difficult. Already in July 2022 in the Speech to the Throne, the Alawite monarch, Mohammed VI, took the first steps to stop this dilemma. The government, in its quest to deliver on its promise to lower prices and prevent price inflation, is already working to solve the problem. Experts on market assessments and the impact of public policies on the market, such as Rachid Lazraq, support the theory that prices were affected by the absence of more effective laws, adding that "lack of legislation cannot be an excuse for not tackling the problem".

In an attempt to put pressure on monopolising, warehousing and speculating companies, the Economic, Social and Environmental Council gave the go-ahead to investigate and control intermediary companies, noting that "in Morocco, the marketing of products, especially agricultural products, is characterised by a strong presence of intermediaries". This, when translated into prices, has a negative effect, causing them to rise progressively until they finally reach the consumer, who is the one who suffers the most. One of the most significant examples is the 33% increase in the price of tomatoes and onions.


Faced with this rise, Mohamed Siddiqui, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural Development, Water and Forestry, pointed out that in this situation, price control is more than a matter of urgency. He also suggested that the root of the problem lies in identifying all those involved in the production chain in order to have better control of all the links that are currently causing prices to reach values never before seen by Moroccans. Bouazza Kharati, president of the Moroccan League for Consumer Rights, told The Arab Weekly that since the market has been liberalised for 23 years, it is a great challenge to control prices. 

In addition, government action in this regard is limited, as they can only manage and act in their own subsidised markets, so they can only monitor the situation, which means that the problem remains. The departments in charge of the matter and market inspection committees are investigating the functioning of certain markets in order to prevent consumer fraud and, for the time being, to alleviate as far as possible a problem that the Moroccan government is aware of and is already working on.

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