Stop the Waste! [opinion]

Last Tuesday’s Council of Ministers’ Meeting at the State House was occasion for President Paul Biya to hammer on some of the negative practices in government that have so far retarded the country’s development process.

This appears to be so timely even though its not new, especially as the Head of State announced a colossal sum to finance the three-year emergency programme. The programme which falls in line with the recommendations of the President to accelerate economic growth and improve the living conditions of the population is different from the road maps under execution in the various ministries.

It targets immediate needs of the people such as urban development, health, agriculture and livestock. The programme evaluated at FCFA 925 billion is being financed through the mobilisation of required resources from local and international financial institutions at affordable rates. The success of the emergency programme will certainly depend of a number of factors. One of them, the Head of State said in his instructions to the members of government, is to “rationalise public spending.”

This entails substantial reduction in non-essential expenditure so that such resources are allocated to major projects to the general interest and improvement of the well-being of the population. From every indication such wasteful spending has so far produced serious negative consequences on the country’s economy. The Head of State on Tuesday expressed his disappointment at this state of affairs.

“I have been made to understand that the quality of public expenditure has not stopped deteriorating “, President Biya told members of government. In effect, it was occasion to recall that there has been a significant increase in expenditure on goods and services that the number of missions, notably those abroad have not stopped rising, and that there has been a growing number of committees and inappropriate projects within ministries.

The three-year emergency programme will succeed on if among other things, government reduces substantially subventions that are uncalled for. The watch words, it would appear are rationality and moderation. The Head of State in this light instructed an immediate reduction in government standard of living by blocking expenditure on goods and services. He equally called on them to “drastically reduce mission allowances and the purchase of cars and fuel.”

The instructions of the Head of State are not new in the real sense of the word. In effect more than a decade ago, almost all government vehicles were sold out as part of the measures to fight economic crisis. But these measures were rather short lived. Government vehicles have bounced back in full force. A director in a government office that owns no service car finds it quite abnormal. And so, the streets today are invaded by the so called “CA” cars.

Some of them are so sophisticated and can be evaluated at over FCFA 50 million. In the same vein, cases abound where civil servants fake missions and get paid without executing them. Memories are still fresh on the decision of the Prime Minister during the World Cup in South Africa where civil servants were asked to refund undue mission allowance into the State coffers.

Source : Cameroon Tribune

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