Cameroon is set to get a 21 Billion FCFA loan for its ongoing reconstruction of the troubled North West and South West regions. The decision to get the loan from the Islamic Development Bank, was decreed by President Paul Biya on February 06, 2023.
The president in the decree delegated the task to the Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Alamine Ousmane Mey, noting that the sum would contribute to others for the Presidential Plan for the Reconstruction and Development of the North West and South West regions (PPRD-NW/SW).
As part of its overall plans for reconstructing the two regions as well as the Far North affected by the Boko Haram war, government had in the 2023 Finance law, advocated a sum of 15 Billion FCFA. The law also makes allowance for a Special Fund for the Financing and Reconstruction of Zones Economically damaged in the three regions.
The loan comes at a time government is stretching thin to cater for other economic needs, such as the cost of fuel products. Despite the increase in fuel prices, government continues to subsidize the project, a move whose long run sustenance is increasingly being questioned.
In July 2022, government revealed it spent 317 Billion FCFA to subsidise the products in the first half of the year. In the same month, Treasury Director General, Moh Sylvester revealed government was set to approve a 780 Billion FCFA subsidy for the same purpose.
In addition to the fuel hikes and the accompanying debate over the benefits and downsides of subsidies, government is under pressure to raise the minimum wage. Some 26 trade unions and civil society organisations championing the initiative have threatened to implement no-work days for the next month, to ensure government makes the move.
Among other demands, they want government to raise the figure to 150,000 FCFA from 36,000 FCFA, a distant figure from government’s proposed 41,000 FCFA.
Away from other economic concerns the nation is grappling with, government’s reconstruction project has since inception, come under the radar for its intention, given that the armed conflict is still ongoing in some parts of the affected regions. Like other direct and indirect institutions and outcomes of the 2019 Major National Dialogue, some dismiss the project as a smokescreen to cover the reality on the ground – that of continuous destruction and ravaging of property.
While the PPRD-NW/SW team is working leaving no stone unturned in reconstructing relatively peaceful areas of the conflict-infested regions, they may have to work more on the project image.
This, is as multiple other state-run initiatives meant to serve the locals such as the COVID-19 program and the “””, have left untreated scars in the hearts of many a Cameroonian.
The plan, it should be recalled, came to being on April 03, 2020. Government since them aligned the initiative with the ten-year National Development Strategy (NDS) 2020/2030. Last year, government in its efforts to mobilise the necessary funding, urged France to redeem its 40 Billion FCFA pledge made to the cause in October 2019.
French Ambassador to Cameroon, Christophe Guilhou is quoted to have however earlier stated that the release, would be based on the state of affairs in the said region: before starting the reconstruction, the region must be pacified. You will have to reach a peace agreement between the armed gangs and the government.”
Poise News Desk