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Kamto condemns Cameroon/IMF structural adjustment program

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Following the Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of CEMAC held on 22 and 23 December 2016 in Yaoundé, it was decided, inter alia, “to start and finalize bilateral negotiations with the IMF in the near future, to better structure Member States’ adjustment efforts”. The President of the Republic did not say a word about it in his message to the Nation of December 31, 2016, when all his counterparts from neighbouring countries warned their fellow citizens of efforts to be made.

CRM had sufficiently stressed the lack of a coherent economic policy of the Government of our country long before this admission of failure.

CRM observed that the absence of such an economic policy had led to the destruction of businesses and jobs by wild taxation, endemic unemployment which particularly affects young people,  an unsustainable rate of debt, the structural deficit in the balance of trade and the balance of payments, and  increase in poverty.

On the basis of these analyses, CRM warned Cameroonians that less than ten years after reaching the completion point of the HIPC initiative in 2006 and completing the last IMF review in September 2008, after 20 years of structural adjustment in sweat and tears, their country would once again, under the same regime, return to the IMF.

As usual, the Government had reacted on 31 December in the evening by assuring  Cameroonians that their country knew no economic and financial difficulties, putting forward the strange argument that  that our country would undertake a simple budgetary adjustment, which would in any case be painless for the Cameroonian people, only in solidarity with other  Central African States.

The IMF just granted Cameroon, on Monday, June 26, 2017, a loan of $ 666.2 million, or about 390 billion CFA francs, in exchange for a drastic economic program to be carried out over three years. This program, we hope, is aimed at restructuring an economy in a state in serious failure due to a structural amateurism and a carelessness of the Government in the management of public affairs, a government that has been looking for ideas for decades. A visit  at the Registry of the Special Criminal Court -TCS- allows anyone to find, after adding amounts embezzled by some “unfortunate alleged misappropriators of public funds in disgrace in the system” quoted in the role of a single hearing, that the Government had no need once again to go and humiliate our country at the IMF and to impose new sufferings on a Cameroonian people who were already suffering  and that no one could guarantee that such sufferings would end in three years; the experience of the previous structural adjustment plan has been quite the opposite.

Except for a miracle, this loan, like previous ones for more than thirty-five years, will be used to support the princely lifestyle of the President of the Republic and his entourage during his multiple and long private visits in Europe, pleasure and convenient travels of ministers and senior officials around the world, acquire large cylinder cars to corrupt officials in various administrations in the run-up to the important election year of 2018.

The well-structured chain of the government corruption system under assured political protection is no doubt already ready to swallow this other loan for which, once again, no serious reform of democratic governance – without which no economic programme can cannot be successful, cannot be expected from  a regime that is manifestly out-dated. When the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative completion point was reached in 2006, President BIYA declared that “achieving the Completion Point is without a doubt a decisive step on the road to recovery and relaunch of our economy. It unquestionably opens up very favourable prospects. But it is by no means an end in itself, nor a panacea that will solve all our problems overnight  … My dear compatriots, this is an exceptional opportunity that is offered us today. Let us not waste it.” He could be much more enthusiastic that, thanks to the HIPC initiative, all the Cameroonian public debt vis-à-vis development partners of our country was suppressed; the counters of this debt were therefore reset.

The President of the Republic linked the transformation of this economic opportunity with a profound change in political practices and methods of managing public affairs. His bet has failed twice. Not only is the “very favourable outlook” of the economy now a nightmare of unfinished or abandoned work, but the country, as before the 2006 HIPC, ranks first in all studies on corruption.

The economic lie of the Government has just collapsed and Cameroonians can realize that the recovery of the national economy has become our myth of Sisyphus.

Although at the end of the CEMAC summit of 22 and 23 December 2016, the French Minister of Finance insisted that “the IMF is not the same as in the 1990s” “The need to preserve social programs and investments to sustain growth and diversify the economy has all been stressed”, these precautions are not enough to suggest that there can be adjustment plans without sacrifices.

Nothing will come out of promises of Emergence in 2035! Courage for the return to the dark years of drastic cuts on  social, education, health, research, culture, in short on anything that affects poor people or which the Government considers secondary.

President Biya and his government, who under the same regime took the country twice to the IMF, are not politically courageous to draw all consequences of this scandalous economic failure. You, Cameroonians, voters registered on ELECAM electoral rolls, you can limit the social and economic ordeal of our people who enters into a structural adjustment cycle, finally voting for your interests, you’re children and our nation.

The CRM National President
Maurice KAMTO
Yaounde, June 30th, 2017.

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