Casablanca — Magharebia - Following a programme for social housing for Moroccans on limited incomes, a similar programme is now being planned for the middle class.
The Moroccan government plans a series of incentives to encourage new housing aimed at the middle classes, according to Housing Minister Nabil Benabdallah.
"Around 20,000 units will be aimed at the middle classes every year, with prices ranging from 600,000 to 800,000 dirhams for a surface area of between 100 and 150mÂÂ². However, the project will not be fully up and running until 2014," the minister said last Monday (October 22nd) at a Rabat press conference.
In order to take advantage of the special tax incentives, a developer will need to commit to building no fewer than 300 units per year for middle class occupation.
El Yazid Lamkili, a housing developer in Casablanca, said there were contradictions in the steps taken by Benkirane's government to reduce the housing shortfall.
"The rise in tax on concrete and steel, proposed in the draft 2013 finance bill, is a further threat to Moroccans' ability to access decent housing, because it will undoubtedly result in price hikes for housing," he explained to Magharebia, adding that the government's initiative was unconvincing.
Other developers said that the tax relief was necessary to deal with the shortage of land, which is growing more expensive.
The National Federation of Housing Developers is demanding that the government offer tax relief equal to that offered for social housing priced at 250,000 dirhams, with prices fixed at 6,000 dirhams per square metre.
Youssef Benmansour from the Federation of Housing Developers said it is possible to build mid-priced homes for young people and middle class families, but "it will mean resorting to high-rise buildings".
According to the housing ministry, tax relief is not on the agenda, particularly not at this difficult time for public finances.
"Housing for the middle classes is a major national issue, because these people make up 53% of the total population," financial analyst Moussa El Mauritanie pointed out, adding that housing costs account for 40% of Moroccan household expenditure.