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Presidency Slashes Own Budget In 2018 

By Yerima Kini Nsom

The Presidency of the Republic has proposed a slight cut in its own budget in 2018.

According to the 2018 draft budget that is still lurking in the drawers of Government services, the State House will cut its own budget from FCFA 48 billion to FCFA 41 billion, thereby sanctioning a drop of FCFA 7 billion.

By virtue of such a move, observers hold that President Biya may want Cameroonians to believe that he is teaching by example. In a circular in which he gave guidelines for the drawing up of the 2018 budget recently, the President recommended that extravagant lifestyle of the State be cut to size.

In order to enable Cameroon adapt to the economic bad weather, Biya urged Government to reduce mission allowances of civil servants and arrest the unnecessary purchase of expensive cars. The President prescribed many other measures that would help the state to reduce cost.

The 2018 draft budget stands at FCFA 4.513 billion as against FCFA 4.373 billion in 2017. It indicates an increase of FCFA 140 billion. On the contrary, the Presidency has decided to drop its own budgetary projections usually considered as a sovereign budget in Parliament and thus not subject to any scrutiny by the people’s representatives. The functioning budget of the Presidency has reduced from FCFA 43 billion in 2017 to FCFA 38 billion in 2018.

Given that only FCFA 3 billion is allocated for investment, critics have qualified the budget of the State House as a chopping one that will enable those who manage it to continue living in opulence.

Officials in the House will continue to take home exorbitant allowances from the functioning budget. The President will continue to travel with a bloated entourage as usual while same officials will continue to earn fuel allowances of over FCFA 1 million a day.

The letter of the draft finance law (a copy of which The Post glanced through), still points to the fact that the State is reluctant to reduce its ostentatious lifestyle that is manifested in the buying of new cars yearly.

This is contrary to the circular in which Biya called on Government officials to eschew the extravagant use of telephone and reduce the budget for the buying of cars. He also recommended the dislodging of fake civil servants from the State payroll and the punishing of absenteeism.

But, little has changed, given that fake civil servants and many others who have abandoned their jobs and gone for greener pastures abroad are still swelling the State wage bill with the complicity of corrupt State officials in the Ministries of Finance and Public Service and Administrative Reforms.

Given the drop of oil prices in the world market, the 2018 draft budget is predicated on non-oil revenue. This means increase in taxes and the institution of new ones.

The exportation tax on rice, palm oil, pepper, coconut and eru has been raised to five percent. Exportation tax of forest products has also been raised as well as the institution of new taxes on industrial and agricultural products.

Land tax now will be paid alongside electricity bill to ENEO. Thus, one cannot pay electricity bills now without paying the land tax.

According to the draft budget, the Ministry of Secondary Education will take home the biggest envelope of FCFA 365.212 billion as compared to FCFA 318 997 billion in 2017. The Ministry of Communication appears at the bottom with a budget of FCFA 4.390 billion.

It represents Government’s weak political will to promote the media and render it more vibrant and unfettered.