28 November 2012

Cameroon: The Fight Against Inertia Still Resolutely On

The build- up to Tuesday's Council of Ministers was marked with of anxiety.

For obvious reasons. On the morrow of the formation of the second Yang government on December 9, 2011, a similar Council of Ministers holding on December 15, 2011 was given very clear and precise instructions by the Head of State to ensure that government accountability was the new order and that Ministers were not just going to present road maps but were under the obligation to follow a timetable drawn up by the President's Office.

The Ministers were given 45 days to prepare their road maps which were expected to be forwarded to the Prime Minister for onward transmission to the President of the Republic within fifteen days for validation. Progress reports on these road maps were supposed to have been prepared after six months and submitted to the Head of State for appraisal. One could therefore understand heightened activity within several ministries a few months ago as these deadlines drew near with each Minister struggling not only to meet the deadlines, but also to know the appraisal of the Head of State over their proposals. One therefor understands why so many of the Ministers carried very heavy faces as they arrived at State House yesterday for this crucial session. The ambience was very much of students going into a room for the proclamation of examination results.

It turned out to be quite a cordial come-together as the President, rather showed a lot of understanding to the extent of encouraging them to continue with the results already obtained. But this Presidential posture should not be taken for leniency, neither should it be construed to mean the Head of State is abandoning his fight against inertia and red tape in the functioning of government services. On the contrary; he engaged the members of government to take up the fight against this ill. The President was prescribed more celerity and resolution in the handling of major projects on course in order to draw the highest premium from the growing interest being shown by foreign investors. In so doing, the Head of State said this would help consolidate some of the successes already registered in some of the huge face-lifting projects currently underway.

Granted, yesterday's council of ministers was to exclusively examine the mid-term performance of the ministerial road maps. But the satisfaction and encouragements expressed yesterday should not send the ministers asleep or give room for chest-beating because this performance is still far from meeting the President's goals as set out during the October 15, 2011 council of ministers. On that occasion, he reminded members of government of the commitments he had taken before the people of Cameroon during his campaigns for the 2011 elections.

"We have enormous progress to carry out in terms of efficiency and rapidity... the modern world does not wait for anyone... once a decision is taken, execution must follow without useless feet-dragging" a disappointed President Biya told his cabinet, even using one example to illustrate his preoccupation. "In ten years, we have been unable to draw up sectorial codes of our Investment Charter which are supposed to be indispensable instruments for the realization of our major projects'" he lamented. This simply means there is still much to be done and the fight against red tape and inertia is far from won. Neither is the one to instill celerity in government's work ethic.

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