Rabat- The minister of employment, Mohamed Yatim, has once again attracted controversy after he said that Moroccans can live on MAD 3,000 per month.
During a “talk with the press” interview on 2M channel on Sunday, September 16, Yatim stated that “Moroccans can live on [the minimum wage].” The minimum wage, known as SMIG, is set at MAD 3,000 per month.
Yatim went on to contradict his previous statement, saying: “Moroccans can live on SMIG, but they still need more than SMIG. SMIG is the minimum; if the [salary] is below the minimum, then it would be a problem.”
The minister continued: “At the end, Moroccans can manage their affairs; however, it is our duty to improve their financial situations.”
Yatim’s statements received sharp criticism and angry reactions on social media.
Moroccans were also reminded of the PJD minister in charge of Family and Solidarity, Bassima Hakkaoui, who said in January that Moroccans can live on MAD 20 per day.
“Those who earn 20 dirhams a day are not considered poor,” she stated, basing her statement on the High Commission for Planning’s report which showed that the number of poor people in Morocco has declined from 10 to 4 million people.
In Morocco, minimum wages are significantly lower than the survival baseline, or what could be described as a living wage, according to a report by Oxfam International released in January.
The richest 10 percent of Moroccans have a standard of living 12 times higher than the poorest 10 percent, a gap that has not decreased since the 1990s, said the organization.
It is not the first time that Yatim’s statements sparked controversy.
When asked in May by a journalist about his stance as a Moroccan citizen on the ongoing boycott of three companies with reportedly high prices, Yatim replied, “I am a minister and not a citizen. You are asking me [about my stance] as a minister now. If I were a citizen on the street you would not ask me.”
The minister said that the boycott “does not concern” him as a member of the government. “Some [people] believe that I am for or against the boycott. I am not for nor against this issue. I am an official and this concerns citizens,” he added.
Yatim’s statements tipped social media users over the edge, as they rose to attack him on Facebook and Twitter, writing things like: “What were you before?”; “We will not forgive those who supported you in your election campaign”; and “We have discovered now that you are a minister and not a citizen on the street.”
Yatim apologized to Moroccans, writing on his Facebook page that he was proud of being a Moroccan.
He clarified his earlier statement, saying: “I would like to reiterate what is meant by this statement, which is more than three weeks old. This is to remind the journalist at the time that he asked me as a minister, and that he would not have asked me if I was a citizen walking in the street.”