Cameroon: Economic and Financial Reforms - Maintaining Positive Trends

The signing of the multibillion loan agreement with the IDA opens another important page in the series of reforms aimed at improving public finance management.

It was certainly another news breaking event that came in from Washington, October 15. A financing agreement amounting to 200 million US dollars (approximately FCFA 117.7 billion) was reached between Cameroon and the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA), an amount that will be disbursed for the second Development Policy Support Operation for fiscal consolidation and inclusive growth in Cameroon. As explained succinctly by the Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Alamine Osumane Mey, in a post-ceremony statement, the signing of the agreement tells of the recognition of Cameroon's efforts toward the satisfactory implementation of the reforms aimed at boosting growth in all its components. The World Bank in a separate statement in which it cites Abdoulaye Seck, World Bank Country Director for Cameroon, confirmed these efforts in the following words; "Cameroon's ambitious fiscal consolidation efforts and structural reforms are showing positive results." Whereas the country is being hailed for its efforts, many continue to wonder what these growth-oriented reforms are. In effect, since December 2016 when Heads of State of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) met in Yaounde under the auspices of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the checkered board of reforms was put up with nations taking engagements to undertake reforms tailored at none dependence on oil revenue to boost their economies. With regards to fiscal consolidation, Cameroon set out to undertake a number of reforms to scale down public spending, trigger private sector economic machine and explore and exploit all non-oil avenues capable of reverberating country's economic determining factors. Some of these reforms are legal while others are administrative. Legal Measures The Financial law of 2019 set the base for the legal takeoff of far reaching reforms with regard to fiscal consolidation. These measures set out among others to reduce tax expenditures especially indirect taxes to the tune of FCFA 100 billion. Prior to this, there had been the adoption of a new public procurement code of June 2018; signing in November 2018 of an order to redefine the principles of the establishment and functioning of Commissions, Committees, ad hoc Committees as well as working groups, the signing by the Head of State in June 2019 of the decree fixing the categories of public enterprises, the remuneration, the indemnities and the advantages of their managers, and the decree specifying the terms and conditions of application of certain provisions of laws no. 2017/010 and 2017/011 of 12 July 2017 on the general status of public establishments and public companies.

Civil Service Cleansing

The past three years have witnessed a series of reforms to scale down expenditure in the public service. The latest of these measures include the announced suppression of pay slips beginning end of this month (October). According to the decision of the Minister of Finance, all civil servants earning salaries and wages less than FCFA 100,000 will henceforth receive their pay through bank transfers. This decision follows several others including that of unpackaging salaries sent to banks for payment of which the consequences as announced by the Director General of Treasury, Financial and Monetary Cooperation was immediate with several billion CFA saved. In the same vein, the systematic organizing of census for civil servants led to the identification of several thousand fake state workers. The exercise equally helped in detecting ghost workers, civil servants earning undue salaries and some having double monthly pay.

New Dispensation

The second Development Policy Support Operation for fiscal consolidation and inclusive growth for which the IDA has accepted to disburse FCFA 117.7 billion will go the extra mile. These include, in terms of competitiveness, improving the financial viability of the energy sector and strengthening the confidence of the private sector; improving road maintenance and road asset management; improving the competitiveness of ports and the performance of platforms and supply chains among others. .This second operation is equally expected to improve the management of the payment of consumption bills of the central administration, the clearing of State arrears and the regularization of the payment of state subsidies vis-à-vis ENEO; the implementation of the supply of the Road Fund account to the bank of Central African States (BEAC) for the regular payment due to the road maintenance programme prior to 2017 and the execution of the 2018/2019 priority programme and the establishment of the electronic payment platform to cover costs, duties and taxes among others. It will also usher in the adoption of the action plan to improve the competitiveness of the Autonomous Port of Douala to be implemented over the period 2018- 2019. many more reforms are envisaged in the this operation including those that concern the improvement of the living standard of the population.

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