Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

Cameroon: Low Credit Consumption - Dangerous Threat

The dust raised by the low consumption of Public Investment Budget in 2013 is yet to settle. Cameroonians are still to understand why a country in dire need of development projects and a country having as lofty aim to be referred to in 2035 as emerging is unable to use its budget properly.

That no region of the country's ten regions attained a percentage rate of 50 in the execution of the investment budget is something to be worried about. The Head of State in his New Year Message to the Nation could not remain indifferent to this dangerous performance which is proving to be one of the greatest threats to the country's economy.

"Why can't any region of our country achieve a public investment budget execution rate of over 50%?" This, in effect, is the question in every mind. The answer from every indication is simple and is found in the very message of the Head of State to the nation. Self interest reigns supreme. Actors in the execution of the budget would not work normally if they don't see an opening that will make them leak their palms. As President Biya pointed out, "we are an individualistic people, more concerned with personal success than general interest.

Our administration remains susceptible to private interest, which is most often in conflict with national interest." This state of affairs has very far reaching effects on the economy of the country; unexecuted projects, embezzlement, underdevelopment, unemployment and economic stagnation.

The trouble with low or poor consumption of investment budget is that it is happening at the time Cameroon badly needs these projects to emerge. Is it not really painful for a poor farmer in the village to see his produce get rotten after harvest because of the poor state of roads which otherwise would have been repaired but which someone somewhere sat on the funds disbursed for its repairs just because he has nothing to gain from it?

This is the reality of poor budget execution. Some vote holders will argue that the process to award such contracts remains long, complex and complicated. They may be right here though but we forget that Cameroon is like a ship in which the whole population is inside and must be protected from capsizing. This in effect is supposed to be the concern of everyone, the project owner, project executor and the contractor. In fact, all those who play a role in the whole chain must have the interest of the country at heart.

As the country enters the New Year, it is important to note that the low consumption of investment budget in 2013 ought to go into the bad books of history and that this poor performance equally ought to serve as a springboard for actors in budgetary implementation to readjust in 2014. The Head of State will certainly not want a repeat of such an awful situation. In fact, he is unable to understand the usefulness of steering or follow up committees created to monitor the efficient execution of such projects. As he puts it, "one can rightfully question the usefulness of certain project monitoring committees which are unable to take any decisions." The solution in the coming years as prescribed by the Head of State is the production of a "real contingency plan." And this, he says is not a hypothesis. "Now is the time to act. "

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