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Morocco News

CORRECTED-Morocco plans $12.8 bln stimulus to aid recovery from COVID-19 crisis, king says

(Corrects last paragraph to make clear 17,125 is recoveries, not deaths)

RABAT, July 29 (Reuters) - Morocco will inject a stimulus of 120 billion dirhams ($12.8 bln), representing 11% of its gross domestic product, into the economy to help it recover from the coronavirus crisis, King Mohammed VI said on Wednesday.

The government has already said it expects the economy to contract by 5%, the fiscal deficit to widen to 7.5%, and treasury debt to rise to 75.3% of GDP this year.

The king, in a speech, also ordered the creation of a strategic investment fund to support economic activity, including major projects.

“The repercussions of this health crisis will be harsh despite our efforts to reduce its impact,” said the king, who has the final say on most major state decisions in Morocco.

He also urged state welfare to be extended to all Moroccans within five years, noting that the pandemic has revealed the inadequacy of social safety nets and the large size of the informal economy.

More than a third of Moroccan workers already work in unregistered businesses without social protection, doing manual labour or selling in the streets, accounting for 14% of GDP, according to the planning agency.

Unemployment is expected to surge to 14.8% in 2020 from about 9.2% before the pandemic, the agency said.

Morocco has registered 22,213 cases of the coronavirus including 334 deaths and 17,125 recoveries. (Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi, editing by Angus McDowall and Tom Brown)

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