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General News of Friday, 24 January 2014

Source: Cameroon Tribune

Clear Obstacles for Counterpart Funds

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Counterpart funds or better still the State share of finances earmarked for projects have often been accused of compromising the effective execution of development projects in the country.

One of the major reasons given for this state of affairs is the long and complicated procedure in disbursing expenditure for the benefit of the said projects. For most of the projects the disbursement is effective only in the second or third quarter of the budgetary year. As if that were not enough, the absence of enough financial resources in the public treasury sometime leads to fragmented disbursements leading to unfortunate delays in the execution of projects.

The consequences have often been telling. A point in case is the extended vaccination programme wherein government often pays in counterpart money later than the agreed date of September. Against this backdrop, each year, the programme is threatened with failure. Several other examples exist. Donor organisations have not been comfortable with this situation and as such some would rather withhold their share of financing till the counterpart money is effectively paid out for the projects to begin.

The government itself has been worried and this explains why an audit of the situation had to be organised. This had to do with screening all sectors involved in the process.

Some of the areas of interest touched by the auditing include preparation of financing agreements, projects financed, mobilisation and management of funds, taxes and custom duties and disbursement and control of counterpart funds. The Yaounde confab set out in effect to see how possible to remove the obstacles that have often stood on the way of disbursing counterpart money. That notwithstanding, participants were equally concerned with the maturity of projects, budgetary impact of each project prior to the signing of agreements, and transmission to the Ministry of Finance of disbursement programme.

The timeliness of the conference is understood especially as the results of project execution for 2013 remain highly disturbing. It is in fact absurd that projects are held back because of counterpart money whereas the country is the one to benefit most from such projects.

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