25 July 2012

Cameroon: Trade Unions Want Progressive Reduction on Fuel Subsidies

Employers, transporters and consumers trade unions are not totally against the envisaged government reduction of subsidies to some petroleum products but propose accompanying measures that will attenuate the effects of such a decision on the people.

On the instructions of the Head of State, Paul Biya, Prime Minister Philemon Yang in the presence of some cabinet ministers, organized a consultation meeting with over 60 groups of social actors including confederations of employers trade unions, federations of transporters trade unions and associations of consumers trade unions.

Government in a press release signed by the Director of Cabinet to the Prime Minister, Ghogomu Paul Mingo after the consultation, said the Head of Government informed the trade union leaders of an imminent reduction in State subventions to petroleum products. The Prime Minister reportedly presented accompanying measures to cushion the effects of a subsequent reduction in fuel subsidies on the prices of fuel at filling stations.

Trade union leaders were appreciative of the invitation. They made pertinent proposals to government on how to handle the eventual impact of the reduction of subsidies. The Coordinator of the North West Civil society organizations, Simon Nkwenti suggested serious reflection on the issue and said Cameroonians have to be educated so that the final decision be the sovereign will of the people.

The major concern of most trade union leaders was the accompanying measures. Some of them hinted that the Head of Government declared during the consultation meeting held behind closed doors that kerosene and cooking gas will not be affected in the reduction of subsidies on fuel prices that will naturally lead to price increases. Deudie Joseph, President of the National Trade Union of Professional Taxi Drivers of Cameroon (SYNACPROTCAM) proposed that the reduction of subventions be systematic and called on government to raise the living standards of Cameroonians. Zena Ernest of the National Trade Union of Taxi Drivers (SYNCHAUTACAM) disclosed to the press that the Head of Government cited other accompanying measures to include reduction of taxes, parking fees and enabling defaulting drivers pay fines directly into the public treasury.

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