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CDC Is Undergoing Restructuring – GM 

Following the signing of two decrees by the President of the Republic on the transformation and statutes of the Cameroon Development Corporation, CDC, the General Manager, Franklin Ngoni Njie, explains the meaning, raison d’être and implications of these decrees in the following interview.

On January 19, 2016, the President of the Republic of Cameroon signed decree N° 2016/031 on the statute of the Cameroon Development Corporation and decree N° 2016/032 on the transformation of the CDC. What does this mean?

As you have rightly pointed out, the President signed two decrees on the January 19, 2016, touching on the life of the Corporation. The first one, that is, Decree N° 2016/031 of 19th January 2016 transforms the Corporation into a Public Corporation.

Under the 1982 Statutes in which it was hitherto governed, the Corporation was a development corporation. A Public Corporation is defined in our law as “…any corporate body governed by private law and having financial autonomy, whose share capital is held exclusively by the State, … and whose object is to carry out, in the general interest, activities of an industrial, commercial and financial nature.” As a public corporation, management shall henceforth be assessed based on results, notwithstanding the social commitments. I should, however, add that the purpose of the corporation remains substantially the same.

In the second decree, that is, N° 2016/032 of 19th January 2016, the President approved the Statutes of the Cameroon Development Corporation. Otherwise known as the Memorandum and Articles of Association, the Statutes is the Constitutive Instrument of the Corporation.

It can be likened to what a constitution means to a State. In the advent of the OHADA Laws and the 1999 Law on General Rules and Regulations Governing Public Establishments and Enterprises of the Public and Semi-Public Sector in Cameroon, it became mandatory that companies already in existence harmonise their statutes in accordance with the new rules. This is exactly what has happened.

The Statutes of the CDC are now in conformity with current legislation. I wish to stress that the approval of the Statutes by the Head of State falls in line with the restructuring process of the Corporation being undertaken by the Government.

The Statutes constitute the Institutional Framework. Overall, the restructuring also covers financial and technical domains. This shall all culminate in the signing of a Performance Contract between the State and the CDC.

Are you implying that the Corporation you manage had been operating illegally?

No, the CDC was not operating illegally. In fact, the CDC has never operated illegally. An illegal act is one that is not authorised by law. As you may be aware, the CDC was legally constituted from her inception more than 68 years ago.

Over the years she has been governed by several legislations. Perhaps it is correct to say that CDC was not operating in conformity with current legislation. I should add that by the provisions of the 1999 Law cited above, the Articles of Association of Public Corporations like the CDC that has the State as sole shareholder are to be approved by the President of the Republic. Equally worthy of mention is the fact that the CDC has been implementing a good portion of the OHADA Laws and the 1999 Law. With the approved Statutes, we shall now wholly effect compliance.

What are the fundamental changes that will take place following the Presidential decrees?

There are many. Ever since the National Produce Marketing Board became defunct, it is now stated in black and white that the State is the sole shareholder of the CDC.

CDC is a public corporation as earlier stated. The harmonised statutes reflect the increase in the share capital of the CDC. CDC is now under the dual tutelage of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Finance. CDC has been given a new life span. There is a clear separation of powers between the management organs, that is, the General Assembly, the Board of Directors and General Management. It presents the external auditor as an important component in the management structure.

It has put a cap on the mandate of members of the General Assembly, Board of Directors, the General Manager and his Deputy. There is provision for an elected staff representative to sit on the Board of Directors. As a matter of fact, the effective implementation of the harmonised statutes shall greatly enhance the governance framework in the Corporation.

Will these Presidential decrees bring an end to the pressure mounted on the Corporation to surrender some of her farm lands?

It is important to draw a distinction between the various categories of the land on which the CDC operates. Some of the land on which CDC operates is on leasehold basis from the State. This is essentially National State Public Property. On the other hand, there is land whose ownership has been transferred to the CDC as share capital and incorporated into the assets of the Corporation.

The CDC has acquired land certificates over this land. Whereas, the first category can be surrendered, the second category cannot be surrendered. There is an established procedure for the surrender of land held by the CDC on lease. The CDC shall surrender leasehold land to the State as per that procedure.

What are the difficulties currently faced by the corporation you manage?

The difficulties confronting the CDC are caused by conditions inherent in her operations and to a very large extent by extraneous circumstances, many of which are beyond her control. Urbanisation and biodiversity conservation have resulted to the felling down of crops under production and diminished land available to CDC for her activities.

The manner in which the plantations are spread leads to some overhead costs not incurred by others in the industry. Changes in weather patterns adversely affect productivity. The price of rubber is very low as a result of the morose international economic outlook. This negatively affects the cash flow. More than 50 percent of our plantations are due replanting.

This affects both production and productivity. The Corporation is unable to generate the revenue necessary to regularly improve on the housing conditions of workers and maintain the roads, mills and factories to required standards. The Corporation cannot access long term financing because it is listed for privatisation. The erratic nature of power supply by the lone power supply company is a handicap especially to the Banana Sector. We are confident that the measures currently undertaken by Government to restructure the Corporation shall solve many of the difficulties we face.

Any message for your workers?

I will take this opportunity to emphasise one particular message. As I have been telling them, the wind of change is blowing. The CDC cannot be left out. The action by the Head of State goes in this direction. As I mentioned earlier, CDC is undergoing restructuring. This was instructed by the Prime Minister, Head of Government. It covers institutional, financial and technical domains. Harmonising the Statutes is part of the institutional framework. All of this shall culminate in the signing of a Performance Contract between the State and the CDC. The performance Contract contains exacting obligations and key Performance Indicators. Each and every worker, including myself, is called upon to sit up and make a paradigm shift. I thank the Head of State, H.E Paul Biya, the Prime Minister Head of Government, the entire Government and all our stakeholders, for their special interest manifested in favour of the well-being of the CDC.

Interviewed by Manyanye Ikome, Communication & Public Relations Manager, CDC

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