As a giant leap towards seeking progressive ways of achieving a National Budget that fosters the emergence of Cameroon in 2035, the Nkafu Policy Institute convened opinion holders — who have the potential to influence the elaboration and execution of the Budget — to take a more cautious look at the 2019 National Budget of Cameroon. Thus, present at Djeuga Palace Yaoundé (the host premises) last Friday 22nd March, 2019, were government officials, private sector executives, researchers, press organs, and civic leaders.
It was in recognizance that the Cameroonian economy was at the crossroads despite little amelioration, that the Budget Initiative event sought to encourage such discussions. The report evaluated Bill No. 1041/PJL/AN adopted by Parliament on 28th November 2018. It included different features like public spending, taxation, debt ratio, etc.
Some participants at the event.
Some striking facts could be deduced from the report. The 2019 Budget of Cameroon which currently stands at 4,850.5 billion FCFA — includes an increase of 161 billion FCFA (in absolute terms) or 3.43% increment (in relative terms), compared to that of 2018. And a deeper scrutiny of the Budget depicts that for instance, in 2019 the debt service (domestic and external), which is the first expenditure in terms of budget allocation, is 1,057.4 billion FCFA. And this amount is more than double the revenue that would be derived from oil (475 billion FCFA). The domestic debt service is 12.3% of the annual budget and the external debt service is 9.5% of the same. Hence, in total, 21.8% of the annual budget would be allocated to the payments of interest and principal on public debt. Besides, other problems could be underlined: notably the huge import of rice and fish (estimated altogether at 315 billion FCFA by the World Bank), while little investment was allocated to agricultural development and infrastructural development (like roads, schools, hospitals, etc.). It was therefore high time Cameroon started placing a high accent on her budget priorities, with emergence in 2035 being her topmost.
Some participants at the event.
The discussions of the day commenced with a report by Hugue Nkoutchou, PhD (Director, Nkafu Policy Institute). This was followed by a 5-minute video — highlighting key facts and priority areas of the 2019 Budget, and how the population perceived same. Topical during the discussions were: (1). the stakes and challenges of the 2019 National Budget, (2). the impact of the 2019 National Budget on the middle class and most disadvantaged persons in Cameroon, (3). major changes and problems to address, and 4. how Cameroon could progress towards achieving a developmental budget.
The one-hour panel discussion had as raison d’être, to make public a solid and objective report evaluating the 2019 National Budget of Cameroon, as published by the Nkafu Policy Institute. The report spotlighted the stakes, challenges, strengths and weaknesses contained in the Budget. This was aimed at proposing solutions through which Cameroon could accelerate its progress towards achieving by a developmental budgetary policy, and emergence by 2035 — in line with the broader mission of Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation which is that of ‘catalyzing Africa’s economic transformation: by focusing on social entrepreneurship, science and technology, health, and the implementation of development policies which will create economic opportunities for all.’ The Nkafu Policy Institute, a think tank at the Foretia Foundation, is one of the pillars through which the Foundation hopes to achieve its mission.
Consequently, it was hoped at the end, that participants would have: understood the stakes and challenges of a state Budget in a developing economy like Cameroon, measured the impact of the budget on the middle and most disadvantaged class of persons, diagnosed the challenges faced in implementing the budget, and understood how Cameroon could reframe its budget towards achieving emergence in 2035.
Panelists at the event, from far left to right: Dr. Hugue Nkoutchou (Director of Nkafu Policy Institute, Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation); Dr. Peter Sakwe Masumbe (Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and International Relations, University of Buea and Technical Adviser, Cameroon’s Prime Ministry); Dr. Hermann William Arrey (Interim CEO, Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation); and the moderator ,Ulrich D’pola Kamdem (Economic Policy Analyst, Nkafu Policy Institute, Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation).
NB: This article was written thanks to some salient details culled from Nkafu Policy Institute, Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation.
Photo credit: The Graphics Team, Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation