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« No More Sleep | Main | Kohtem Is Not Fon Doh's First Victim - Fru Ndi »

Thursday, 17 February 2005

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Research Atom

The IMF should go to sleep. The IMF is a failure, disgrace, embarrasment and a stagnating virus in the economic life line of Poor southern countries

Dr A A Agbormbai

"In meeting with vote holders in Yaounde recently, the Minister of the Economy and Finance, Polycarpe Abah Abah, admitted that it was the poor execution of the 2004 budget that accentuated the country's economic woes.

Corruption reportedly took centre stage and money that was earmarked for development projects was siphoned into private pockets. These, among other economic crimes, constituted the jinx that stood in the country's way to the HIPC-I completion point. It is this negative scenario that the IMF is out to reverse. The IMF release also says their discussions with government 'focused on how strengthening public finances and structural reforms could help achieve the shared goals of stronger growth and poverty reduction.' "

The poor execution of the 2004 budget, caused by embezzlement of project funds into personal accounts along with cancellation of the projects, led to Cameroon's economic demise. In attempting to reverse this negative scenario the IMF discussed with the government on how to strengthen public finances and structural reforms as a means to "achieve the shared goals of stronger growth and poverty reduction".

The result of all these was that the government increased taxes, which impoverished the people even more and filled the coffers of the embezzlers even more! As a result, the economy grew at a rate of 5%. No action was ever taken to punish current and past embezzlers, who are now roaming the world enjoying their booty, or was any action taken to recover all the embezzled assets to boost public finances.

Now here are my questions:

1) Did the IMF discuss with the government that the best way (or perhaps one of the valid ways) of dealing with the problem of boosting public finances after an embezzlement spree (that led to non-execution of the previous year's budget) was to increase taxes?

2) And if so can the IMF truly say that it has done its job well, when a non-economist like me can easily see that taxes burden the people and therefore does not alleviate their poverty but instead exacerbates it?

3) Is the IMF therefore encouraging Biya to continue to extort its people by not forcing him to address head-on the key problem of embezzlement in a way that punishes culprits and recovers all stolen assets?

4) In attempting to achieve the shared goals of growth and poverty reduction, did the IMF place greater emphasis on growth than on poverty reduction when discussing this isue with Biya? If not why is it that the methods adopted by Biya empasise growth to the detriment of poverty reduction? In fact, the people are impoverished through high taxes and low pay for the sake of achieving economic growth on paper!

5) Why is it that the methods that Biya adopts are not aimed to directly "reverse this negative scenario" of economic downturn and poverty that embezzlement causes, which in turn causes non-execution of the budget through project cancellation? Doesn't common sense say that a direct reversal of this scenario calls for taking on all current and past embezzlers and confiscating all their booties to finance current development efforts?

6) Why concentrate on taking it out on the people instead of dealing head-on with the embezzlers to make life regrettable for them?

7) Is the IMF too, like Biya, scared of Cameroonian embezzlers, or are the people simply there to pay for government officials' crimes? If so is this consistent with the prime philosophy of poverty reduction amongst the people?

Martin

The aim of the IMF is to stabilize the former champagne-addicted La Republique du Cameroun (LRC) and get her to repay loans in the amount of 2700 billion FCFA (US$5.0 billion) in hard currency (Euros and dollar).

The aim of LRC is to be outwardly serious to avoid financial sanctions and collapse of the regime. Instead of focusing on growth, the regime is seeking a pardon of legitimate loans. Here lies a regime that got a modern airport built at the heart of Africa (Nsimalem Yaounde) and still does not know what to do with it!

This is the regime of a modest oil producing country with a modest population, fertile lands and abundant hydropower potential begging for a pardon of legitimate loans. What about landlocked countries with oil import bills to pay? The Biya Government can be surprisingly inept and dangerous.

Ordinary citizens don't count in the equation. LRC is very corrupt including political corruption. By hanging on to power for so long, Paul Biya continues to deny his country the basic right to practise political transitioning and economic renewal.

Martin

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