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Presidency Frustrating Acceleration Of Decentralisation Process 

By Kini Nsom

A document that contains strategies for the acceleration of the decentralisation process in the country has been lying fallow in the drawers of the Presidency of the Republic, five months after Government submitted it for approval.

Known as the National Decentralisation Strategy, the document is yet to get the approval of the Etoudi power house.

The Secretariat of the National Decentralisation Council led by Luc Messi Atangana sent the document to the Presidency on September 12, 2017.

It was submitted at a time when tmany observers had opined that the effective implementation of the Decentralisation process could stem the rampaging tides of the Anglophone Problem.
Despite calls for the acceleration of decentralisation as provided for in the 1996 Constitution, undue delay and inertia have continued to block the document.

The blocking of the document that prescribes a bigger budget for the process is at variance with President Biya’s claims that the decentralisation is being accelerated.

For one thing, the President did not even mention the document in his end of year address to the nation last December.

The strategy provides for the filling up of loopholes in the 2004 law that makes the implementation discretional to many Ministers.

The document further reiterates the fact that Cameroon is a Decentralised Unitary State that has nothing to do with Federation. It recommends the putting in of more money in the process.

Decentralisation is the devolution of powers by the Central administration to local collectivities.
Twenty-two years after the 1996 Constitution was adopted, the provision of decentralisation has been stalled by what some political observers call the lack of political will by the Biya regime.

Since 2010 when the former Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation, Marafa Hamidou Yaya attempted to accelerate the process, only FCFA 200 billion has been sent to local councils by certain Ministers.

In 2010, the amount of money that Government allocated for decentralisation was equal to only 0.33 percent of the budget.

There was a slight increase in 2011 when it rose to 0.37percent of the national budget.
As observers began to pay attention to the increase, Government rather took a few steps backwards by allocating only 0.34 percent of the national budget to decentralisation.

According to statistics from the National Decentralisation Council, the amount of funds allocated for the implementation of decentralisation, is equal to only one percent of the State budget.

The association of mayors in the country has stated that for decentralisation to take its roots, Government needs to allocate a circa 10 percent of the State budget yearly for the process.
In a recent reaction, the Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation, Rene Emmauel Sadi, hinted that Government could raise the amount to about 5 percent of the budget.

In 2015 only FCFA 10.5 billion was allocated for bankrolling decentralisation. FCFA 5.5 billion served as investment budget while FCFA 5 billion was used as the running budget. It was the investment budget that Municipal authorities used to execute certain priority projects around the country. FCFA 3 billion was used to pay the salaries of municipal authorities.

Experts have stated in the national strategy that the authorities need to allocate huge sum of money for the process to move. The document equally recommends the putting in place of Regional Councils for the institutions of the decentralisation to be complete.

Minister Sadi hinted in a meeting last year in Yaoundé that the putting in place of the Regional Councils could only take effect in 2021.

Other Government sources hint that as soon as Etoudi visas the decentralisation strategy, a study will be carried out for the putting in place of Regional Councils.

Once the structures are put in place, Regional Election will be conducted.

Critics hold that the only reason why decentralisation is slow is that conservatives of the Yaoundé heavily centralised administration are blocking it for fear of losing some personal gains.