November 19, 2019 / 5:57 PM / 23 days ago

Morocco’s king appoints committee chief to fight poverty and inequality

FILE PHOTO: Moroccan King Mohammed VI is greeted by people at the station of the first High Speed Train to operate in Africa, in Rabat, Morocco November 15, 2018. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

RABAT (Reuters) - King Mohammed VI of Morocco on Tuesday appointed former Interior Minister and ambassador to France Chakib Benmoussa as head of a committee to tackle social inequality and poverty, the Royal Palace said in a statement.

The King said in July that the committee was intended to design a “new development model” to reform areas such as education, health, agriculture, investment and taxation.

The monarch acknowledged then that infrastructure achievements of recent years, such as highways, high-speed railways, ports, renewable energy and urban development had not been felt by all sectors of society.

Morocco is 123rd in the U.N. Human Development Index, as rural areas lag behind in access to education and health services.

The number of poor Moroccans, or those at risk of poverty, stands at nearly 9 million, or 24% of the population, according to a World Bank Report last month.

Due to a decline in agricultural output, the International Monetary Fund expects Morocco’s economy to grow 2.8% in 2019 after 3% in 2018, a rate that cannot create enough jobs in a society where one in four young people is unemployed.

Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Giles Elgood

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