RABAT - Morocco's 2019 draft budget forecasts a deficit narrowing to 3.3 percent of gross domestic product in 2019, down from 3.8 percent expected in 2018, a government statement said on Thursday.
Based on an average cereals harvest of 7 million tonnes, 2019 economic growth is forecast at 3.2 percent, down from 3.6 percent this year, the government said in a statement issued after approving the draft budget at its weekly council.
Agriculture accounts for 14.5 percent of Morocco's economy, as abundant rainfall this year helped Morocco harvest 10.3 million tonnes of cereals.
The government also said it was planning to spend 17.67 billion dirhams ($1.86 billion) on subsidies of wheat, cooking gas and sugar, up from 4.65 billion dirhams this year.
Spending on social services would increase, with 68 billion dirhams going to education in 2019, up by 5.4 billion dirhams in 2018.
The portion of the budget dedicated to health services would expand by 1.6 billion dirhams to 16.3 billion dirhams, while 750 million dirhams would be distributed to support vulnerable groups including widows, orphans and the disabled.
Firms with annual net profits above 40 million dirhams will be subject to a 2.5 percent solidarity tax on their net profit in 2019, the government said, as it seeks to narrow social and regional disparities in its draft budget.
Public investment would reach 195 billion dirhams in 2019, up by 5 billion dirhams from this year, the government said.
(1 Moroccan dirham = $0.1052)
(Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Ulf Laessing, William Maclean and Peter Cooney) ((mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org;))