A Presidential decree has set out its management modalities, insisting on accountability.
Telecommunications operators in the country will hence pay in, annually, 3 per cent of their business turnovers to an account at the Central Bank opened by the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications. This is to feed a Special Telecommunications Fund set up within the framework of the 1998 reforms that came with the liberalisation of the sector. Initially, they were paying in 2 per cent to the "Fond Spécial d'Affectation" in the Ministry of Finance.
This innovation is contained in a Presidential decree of June 26, 2012 setting out the modalities for the management of the Special Telecommunications Fund, code-named, "Le Fonds" (The Fund). According to the decree, the Fund is placed under the auspices of the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications. The Telecommunications Regulatory Board, by the decree, is charged with ensuring that the operators effectively pay in the required amount to the account. Like any tax that is paid based on what operators declare as their business turnover, the decree empowers the Telecommunications Regulatory Board to verify the sincerity of the amounts declared. As such, in case of any doubt, the regulator can carry out an audit at the expense of the operator.
How Resources Are Managed
The Fund permits the State to develop the telecommunications sector by taking telecoms services to where operators cannot by virtue of their profit motive, especially in the rural areas where profit margins are either low or inexistent, as well as pay the country's contributions in international organisations concerned with information and communication technologies. In a chat with Cameroon Tribune yesterday June 27, an official of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications who opted for anonymity said the decree is a veritable booster to the telecoms sector. Essentially, the Fund finances telecom projects either mounted by operators or government. Reason why the decree has set up three counters: One for the universal service, another for the development of electronic communication and the other for the development of information and communication technologies. Committees will be created to study projects forwarded for financing. The committee has up to November each year to endorse and forward to the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications projects it deems eligible for financing in the forthcoming fiscal year. The Minister in turn proposes to the Prime Minister the priority projects and who is expected to come up with the budget of the Fund and the list of projects to benefit from the financing. Latest December 31, the Minister is expected to furnish the PM with an exhaustive report on the physical and financial execution of the outlined projects. Finance Minister is to appoint an Accountant to carryout financial operations in the Fund and the Finance Controller of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications is to control expenditures in the Fund in line with the rules in force. Other auditors are not excluded given that the Fund is a public utility.