Service Provision – Vote Holders Accused of Swindling Contracts

Accredited service providers say vote holders grab more than 70 per cent of State contracts.

A study by the Trade Union of Service Suppliers indicates that 70 per cent of small and medium-size enterprises crumbled in the past five years due to the aent of vote holders known as “gestionnaire de prestataires de services.” Another study by the “Cercle de Recherche sur le droit et devoir de la personne humaine, CRED,” reveals that tribalism, nepotism, religious bias, egoism and influence-peddling have replaced merit in the award of contracts. Self-centeredness has considerably played down on economic growth with the livelihoods of many Cameroonians at stake, the report says.

In the Molier language, the newfound business is referred to as ‘prestataires des marches publics.” In the Shakespearian language, they are called “contractors,” “suppliers” or “service providers.” This refers to individuals or corporate entities that provide services or products to various public offices. In Cameroon, the business seems to be booming. So astonishing are suggestions that vote holders have reportedly hijacked the sector to the detriment of ‘professionals.’ There is the example of a former Director of General Affairs in a ministry who is a contractor. However, what baffles colleagues is his ability to have created satellite contracting firms where almost all service provision contracts were channeled during his tenure.

The contracting firms are said to either belong to close family relations or friends. Notwithstanding, his case is not new, nor does it boggle many minds. The act is now trendy. Many vote holders have turned into business persons, with the specialty of creating service provision firms. Officials in some ministries or companies who have embraced this form of money-making say it is a free-for-all sector whereby the smartest gets lofty sums. Etienne Nga O. says winning service provision contracts means owning a registered business, which in most cases falls under the small and medium-size enterprise sector. The ability to lobby with vote holders is primary. Notwithstanding, having personalfamily relations with vote holders, he said, tends to pay off.

But the impact is disheartening, says professionals. Etienne Djomatchoua is 20 years in the business and has a wealth of experience. He argues that money turns around the same people given that a new official soon creates a firm in the name of his wife or child. Many contracts, he says, are never executed and even once done, are of poor quality. The State budget has continually witnessed increases every year, yet with little to show in terms of quality contract execution. Djomatchoua holds that economic growth comes with flourishing business turnover and stagnates once investors are deprived of contracts. “Vote holders are not business people. Give money to a vote holder-turned-contractor and he will save in his account, but do same to a contractor and more jobs will be created, more projects executed and more lives changed,” explained Etienne Djomatchoua.

Source : Cameroon Tribune

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