Government allocates FCFA 19 billion to fast-track development in North-West

Cameroon’s 2022 budget stands at FCFA 5,752 billion, balanced in revenue and expenditure. About 18% of the budget, an estimated FCFA 590 billion, gives priority to the decentralization process.

Out of this colossal sum, circa FCFA 19 billion has been allocated to the North-West region. The budgetary allocation witnessed a relative increase of 6.91%. 

According to Viang Mekala, Secretary-General at the North-West Governor's Office who represented the Governor, the execution of the 2022 budget will be respected in line with budgetary reforms.

"The year 2022 has bright prospects but needs everyone to sacrifice to register achievement. Our economy has shown resilience despite the security challenges,” Viang Mekala said. 

The Head of Mission at the Budgetary Launch highlighted the increase observed in the region's budget, stating that one of the priorities for the North-West in the 2022 budget is the construction of roads, notably the Ring Road.

"The take-home is the substantive increase in the allocation for the functional and investment budget for the North-West as compared to last year, a marked increase of 15% of the general budget. For investment there is a marked increase from FCFA43 billion to FCFA 72 billion marking an increase of about 43%,” he said. 

"The first phase of the road between Kumbo and Nkambe is being inscribed as a priority project for the Ring Road, whose works delayed due to the security challenges in the region. The Bamenda-Babadjou Road is already in the logbook. Yet, it can't take off given the crisis. We hope that with the calm that is returning, the projects can take off," the expert furthered. 

The crisis rocking the North-West and South-West regions has been on for the past five years. Unfortunately, the economic backbone of the North-West Region has been tampered with –small businesses have worn out, and according to Ashu, the Head of Mission from Yaoundé, petty businesses need to relaunch activities.

"Some incentives have been given to these businesses including a tax break. That is why this region was declared a sinister zone. So, they can benefit from this tax break and relaunch their activities," Ashu said. 

The Regional Delegate of MINEPAT for the North-West region believed that the main reason for the increase in the 2022 budget, as compared to 2021, was to put in place necessary basics needed by the population, which he said are drivers of development.

"If you want to transform, roads, water, and electricity are the necessary drivers for development. We had an envelope of FCFA 48 billion last year and this year, the budget has moved to FCFA 72 billion. This is the reason for the increase of our budget in 2022," the regional delegate said. 

The MINEPAT Delegate laid emphasis on the need for key actors to attend maturation meetings while observing that the persons concerned with the region's development are rarely present.  

"Contractors cannot proceed when the key persons are not present in meetings. Mayors should be available in all meetings to get the feedback," he said.

LIFIDEP has been noted for carrying out projects without close collaboration from the council,  through local authorities, and without the notice of local stakeholders. These complaints resurfaced during the launching of the 2022 budget.

One of the resolutions arrived at was that "local actors must be involved. MIDENO is the coordinator for LIFIDEP and should caution them". The remark raised the issue of difference in percentages with the work done on the field, and that the percentages are said not to tie because results come from diverse angles.

Councils are said not to be regular in the transmission of budget tracking information, with several lapses in the execution of some contracts.

The Regional Delegate of MINEPAT cautioned that to execute the budget and obtain the most optimal development result, "work must be done within the framework of laid down rules of practices accepted by positive standards, with the guidance of seasoned experts in the domain of public finance and investment".

"The technical support from MINFI in collaboration with other government structures is aimed at providing key actors of the budget execution process with improved tools to attain the optimal execution of the revenue and expenditure operations of the new financial year,” he added. 

Though the 2021 budget was executed in the region under challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and security challenges posed by the armed conflict, there has been some degree of success in the implementation of the decentralization process.

To the administrators and stakeholders concerned, there is hope that liquidation tension will be settled during the 2022 fiscal year.

By Ndefru Melanie

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