The billions of FCfa sunk every year in the State's operations are back on the agenda. The fabulous lifestyle of the State is back on the front news. In short, everyone is again talking about the quality of the public expenditure. The topic was at the heart of the presentation given by the Minister of Finance during the Cabinet meeting held on Thursday, 26 January 2017. Alamine Ousmane Mey was addressing the Prime Minister and all members of the government. The Minister of Finance was first and foremost talking to those who are the main payment mandate issuer of the State’s budget. He reminded them of the following requirements: discipline, responsibility and quality of the expenditure.
It is not the first time the alarm is rung. These past years, the President himself came back to this topic on several occasions. “I want to once again bring your attention to the necessity of streamlining the spending and improve their quality in an international environment marked by the scarcity of financial resources”, Paul Biya repeated to the government, in his special address during the 9 December 2014 Cabinet meeting. The Head of State acknowledged a sad fact: “I unfortunately noticed that the quality of the public expenditure continually worsened, particularly with an accumulation of expenditure whose necessity is not evident”.
Paul Biya even gave some examples to illustrate the issue: unbridled increase in the spending related to goods and services, excessive increase in the number of missions especially abroad, multiplication of the number of committees and inappropriate projects or excessive increases in subsidies. A few days later, the President came back on this preoccupation in his address to the nation on 31 December.
Years have gone by. And on this 26 January 2017, the Minister of Finance brought the attention of his colleagues on the number, frequency and volume of missions abroad, or on the fuel, water, electricity and telephone expenditure. The problem is thus set again today in almost identical terms. It is as if nothing changed after all the interventions of the President and despite the denunciations made by the general opinion on the State’s wastefulness.
Crisis in the CEMAC zone
This time however, the problem must be taken very seriously, based on the comments of Minister Alamine Ousmane Mey. Indeed, the situation is grave considering economic crisis which affects the countries in the Central African Economic Community (CEMAC). And Cameroon has not been spared, even though it has shown the best resilience in the sub-region.
Nevertheless on 26 January 2017, the Minister of Finance recalled that the quality of the public expenditure is one of the solutions to come out of the crisis. This was clearly mentioned during the Extraordinary Summit which gathered the CEMAC Heads of State in Yaoundé this past 23 December.
The 26 January Cabinet meeting thus decided that Cameroon must implement “an adequate budget policy, in particular through significant cuts in the lifestyle of the State and streamlining transfer spending”. But we must go further than a simple budget regulation. The Cabinet also prescribed: “the strict respect of the quarterly commitment quotas, limiting credit transfers and streamlining basic spending”.
Once again the problems linked to the public spending are on the forefront in Cameroon. And the situation is critical. And everyone knows what is expected.