an expert calls for taking into account the achievements of the old policy

For nearly two decades, Morocco has embarked on a policy of social housing in order to provide the poorest with decent housing. In consultation with the stakeholders, the government announced a reform of the public aid system for social housing, replacing more or less tax incentives and exemptions with direct support for access to property.

Solicited by MoroccoLatestNews UK on this subject, the academic and president of the independent center of strategic analyses, Driss Effina, estimated in a first that the government must first present the balance sheet ” critical of the social housing policy of the past 40 years, of adjustment and improvement, which followed up on the current state of play, whether on the regulatory level or that of achievements. The purpose of this review is to establish the strengths and weaknesses of this policy today.

This policy pursued for decades by Morocco has improved considerably by taking into consideration all good practices at the international level in addition to national know-how. So today we have a social policy that positions the Kingdom at the forefront on the African scale.“, explains the economist.

This African positioning of Morocco is due, according to Effina, to the fact that, throughout the world, particularly in Europe, the policy of social housing is fully supported by the State through the organizations that depend on it or local authorities. .

In Africa, it is the State that supports the construction of social housing. » And we have some weird situations in Africa, there are huge queues. Sometimes you have to wait years after filing an application to obtain social housing. It can go up to 20 years of waiting“, he says.

But Morocco, through the policy it has launched since the beginning of this century, continues our interlocutor, has first of all managed to transfer this task to the private sector which takes on this mission in return for incentives, either on the tax or land level, and sometimes facilities in terms of authorization procedures, he underlines.

All this made it possible to relieve the general budget of the State, and to relieve the public establishments which were in charge of this mission, and which no longer exist today. And that has created a very advanced social housing ecosystem. Today we have champions and specialists, who are real estate developers, in social housing. And Morocco launched this initiative at the time of Driss Jettou, which even paved the way for international real estate developers“, supports Driss Effina who recalled the arrival in Morocco, at the beginning of the 2000s, of foreign real estate investors who preferred to invest in social housing in Morocco which offered significant incentives.

In terms of supply and demand, the economist tells us that supply greatly exceeds demand. ” There is even a stock, which has been estimated at 15,000 social housing units, which are on the market without buyers, whereas in other African countries, in particular our Algerian neighbor, there is no social housing. People wait years for the state to build a home and put it on the market“, he compares.

For the economist, the social housing policy currently being pursued by Morocco” deserves to be well evaluated and well adjusted, before entering into new reforms“, noting ” that we must first highlight the strong points of this policy so as not to make any missteps in the future and break everything that has been built “.

Asked about the social housing built almost everywhere in Morocco and which have been transformed over the years into “ghettos”, Driss Effina first specifies that it is necessary to distinguish between the policy itself and its implementation.

These are implementation errors. Each promoter signs an agreement with the State for the construction of these dwellings. And in these agreements, there are several public facilities that must accompany the housing. What generally happens is that we take delivery of the accommodation without the equipment being fitted out, which is why we find ourselves in this situation. Similarly, there are densities to be respected in each social housing program. But unfortunately, there are misappropriations at this level, and the officials in certain areas have agreed to receive programs that do not comply with the contract signed with the promoter. This is what I call implementation errors, which have nothing to do with the policy itself, which remains a very effective policy and has proven itself in several areas of Morocco.“, he says.

For the economist, its dysfunctions are linked to certain promoters or managers who agree to take delivery of housing despite the developer’s non-compliance with the specifications, as well as the issuance of building permits in areas where it does not do not.

There are specifications that must be respected by the promoter. But unfortunately, there are some who do not respect it and try to win on all fronts (taxation, public facilities, etc.)“, he underlines.

Let’s come to the direct support mentioned in the reform announced by the government. According to Driss Effina, there is already direct support for social housing delivered by the State, which consists of a subsidy that varies between 45,000 to 50,000 Dhs that the State gives to households, but which is advanced directly to promoters instead of the customer does not advance.

“Today we have mixed aid which merges direct aid and tax incentives. At present, we do not have many details on the future policy announced by the government. But we are moving towards the abolition of the tax exemption and the increase of the subsidy given by the State to the customer“, explains the economist.

That said, the question raised by the economist is whether this new policy towards which we are going to converge and which we find in the new development model (NMD), will bear fruit.

In the NMD, we talked about the elimination of all tax incentives for promoters, because whoever wrote the report considered that this is an aberration, and that we should only give subsidies to families who want buy housing. I think it’s gonna be a big drift“, he says. Why ?

According to the economist, the one who proposed this measure in the NMD, does not first know the existing models on an international scale and their strengths and weaknesses, or even the history of this social policy in Morocco.

Being a member of the commission mandated by the World Bank to evaluate the Moroccan social housing policy, Driss Effina tells us that the report noted that the Moroccan policy, in comparison with those carried out in Europe, “ was better because it relieved the general budget of the State and had an extraordinary economic effect by allowing the development of a unique model on an international scale in terms of social housing that we do not find elsewhere “.

In this sense, the economist cites the example of Italy, where the social housing package constitutes a great burden for the State because it is responsible for maintenance. ” And when you have a social housing package that has reached 20 million units, the maintenance budget is colossal, while Morocco has privatized all that“, he underlines.

Morocco has ensured that individual housing becomes the property of the individual who must take charge of its upkeep. The State is no longer responsible for the maintenance of this housing pack and is no longer renting the social housing stock because it is selling it“, he explains, “ unlike Europe where the social housing package is held either by local authorities or by the State and constitutes a great burden for their budget“.

Morocco has therefore managed to take the good points of foreign models and develop a unique knowledge in this field, without weighing on the coffers of the State.

The point on which we are going to converge, continues our interlocutor, is if the State removes all that is tax incentive.

We are no longer going to continue to produce this social housing as before and there is a risk of having less housing on the market, that is to say that we are going to return to anarchic housing (slums, etc.). Especially since the cities of Morocco of 20 years ago are no longer the same today thanks to the social housing policy which has put housing on the market for the benefit of all Moroccans, even those who do not don’t have a stable income“, he says.

If the government decides to remove tax incentives, continues the economist, ” we are going to move towards direct housing aid. And there, we risk breaking an entire ecosystem that has been built over the years in Morocco for almost 20 years and that was working“, he argues.

We must ensure that the achievements of the old housing policy are maintained. Direct aid will first of all weigh on the State budget, because we have to provide a substantial budget and the State does not have one. The charges have been assessed at half a billion dirhams per year to support social housing and if developers are not attracted through tax incentives, we will have less production, and therefore less tax revenue for the State. in the field of construction“, concludes our interlocutor.

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