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Make Provision For Gender Budgeting, IMF Urges Cameroon

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – International Monetary Fund (IMF) has harped on the need for the Government of Cameroon to include an annex dedicated to gender budgeting in the country’s 2022 annual budget.

The IMF said the West African nation should prioritize and develop a strategy for financial inclusion, adding that the need for steady progress on structural reforms to support participation of the broader population in the economy cannot be overemphasized.

The global financial institution also stressed the need for the Cameroonian authorities to protect the poor and vulnerable in the population and to implement the national strategy for social protection with the support of the development partners

This was disclosed in a press statement issued at the end of IMF Staff Mission for the 2021 Article IV Consultation and First Reviews of the Extended Credit Facility and Extended Fund Facility for Cameroon.

The IMF team which was  led by Amadou Sy, met with the Prime Minister, Joseph Dion Ngute, the Minister and Secretary General of the Presidency, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, the Minister of Finance, Louis Paul Motaze, the Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Alamine Ousmane Mey, the National Director of the BEAC, Eugene Blaise Nsom, and other senior officials.

The mission also met with representatives of development partners, the diplomatic community, the private sector, and civil society.

The mission noted that the prospects for strong, durable, and inclusive growth require intensification of structural reforms to enhance governance and transparency. The team therefore, welcomed the authorities’ recent steps to strengthen governance in line with commitments undertaken in the context of the IMF’s Rapid Credit Facility, notably the publication of the audit report of Covid-19 related spending in 2020.

In addition, the mission also welcomed the publication of the 2019 Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) report and encouraged the authorities to accelerate reforms to unlock the potential of the economy.

According to the mission, the authorities recognized the key role of the private sector in promoting growth and employment, and achieving the goals of the national development strategy for 2030 (SND30). They also emphasized the need for closer formal dialogue with business to identify constraints and improve the business environment and governance.

The mission agreed with the authorities’ fiscal policy objectives which will be geared to assuring the long-term sustainability of public finances while supporting the implementation of the SND30 and protecting the most vulnerable, noting that the authorities aim to avoid premature fiscal tightening and to gradually reduce the budget deficit to 3.1 percent in 2021, 1.9 percent in 2022 and then to below 1 percent  in 2024 while reducing public debt below 50 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“The economic outlook remains positive but with wide uncertainties. Assuming the pandemic gradually retreats, the gradual recovery in 2021, supported by the non-oil sector, is projected to continue with growth rates reaching 4.5 percent in 2022 and 4.8 percent from 2023 onwards.

“Budget execution at end-September 2021 is in line with the objectives of the revised budget law (RBL) approved in July 2021. Projected oil revenues for 2021 are below expectations but this shortfall should be offset by relatively robust non-oil revenues and expenditure restraint”, the mission said.

The team further stated that authorities also aim to review their medium-term revenue strategy with an emphasis on reinforcing non-oil revenue mobilization by widening the tax base and improving tax policy to help the country reach its revenue potential, adding that they will also seek to create fiscal space for the SND30 by improving the control and efficiency of public expenditures.

The mission welcomed the authorities’ efforts at advancing their structural reform programme, noting that important developments encompass changes in public financial management, including budget formulation and execution, public procurement, capital expenditure management, and in treasury and public debt management.

The team, however observed that further efforts are needed to ensure that all revenues and expenditures are passed through the budget.

“In parallel, efforts to reduce fiscal risks must be sustained, especially through strengthening the management of SOEs and contingent liabilities.  The ongoing efforts to restructure the National Oil Refinery (SONARA) need to be accelerated, along with the clearance of government cross-debts with SOEs”, the mission further explained. 

Meanwhile, the team has reached a staff-level agreement with the Cameroonian authorities on the economic and financial policies that could support the approval of the First Review of the programme under the ECF and EFF arrangements. The IMF Executive Board’s completion of the First Review in February 2022, would allow disbursement of SDR 82.8 million (about US$115.7 million).

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