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Politics of Friday, 31 January 2014

Source: Cameroon Tribune

PM Calls for Decentralisation Strategy

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Below is the final communiqué of the cabinet meeting of January 2014 chaired by Prime Minister Philemon Yang.

"His Excellency Philemon YANG, Prime Minister, Head of Government, presided over an important Cabinet Meeting at 11 am on Thursday 30 January 2014 in the Prime Minister's Office. The meeting was attended by the Vice Prime Minister, Ministers of State, Ministers, Ministers Delegate and Secretaries of State.

The agenda focused on two items, namely:

1. A statement of the Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization on " the assessment of the decentralization process and the transfer of resources to the councils" ;

2. A presentation by the Minister of Public Works on "the rehabilitation and reinforcement of the MATGENIE equipment pool."

The Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization started his presentation by succinctly recalling the legal and institutional framework governing the decentralization process, that is: Law No. 2004/016 of 22 July 2004 on the decentralization guideline; Law No. 2004/017 of 22 July 2004 to lay down the rules governing Councils; Law No. 2004/018 of 22 July 2004 to lay down the rules governing Regions.

The implementation of this process continued in 2009 with the enactment of the law on the finance system of local authorities and the law on local tax revenue. He added that this process was supplemented by the law of 19 April 2012 on the Electoral Code. This Code contains provisions on the election of Municipal Councilors, Regional Councilors and Senators. Moreover, he laid emphasis on the institutional mechanism for the monitoring of decentralization, established in 2009, namely: the National Decentralization Board and the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Local Services, and more recently, the SENATE following the 14 April 2013 senatorial elections.

On the issue of the transfer of power and resources to local authorities, he noted the effective transfer of several powers hitherto exercised by the central administration especially in the construction and maintenance of classrooms; promotion of livestock breeding and fish production activities; helping the needy, providing drinking water in areas not covered by the public network; constructing and maintaining unclassified rural roads; constructing and maintaining health care centers; managing and maintaining centres for women empowerment and the family; creating and maintaining earth roads in urban areas, supporting income and employment generating micro-projects ; etc.

In addition, according to the transfer schedule set by the National Decentralization Board, there shall be a complete transfer of powers to Councils and Urban Communities before 2015 in keeping with the law to lay down the rules governing Councils.

With regards to the problems related to the implementation of the process, the Minister pointed out that they are of two types, namely: the insufficiency of financial resources transferred and the low capacity of Councils and Urban Communities to manage the powers and the resources allocated them. There is also the absence of a global strategy to define the set objectives, and the schedules and timetables, actors and implementation indicators, as well as the methods for the follow up and evaluation of the process.

As a way forward, he recommended the development of a national decentralisation strategy that will specifically enable a better definition of the volumes of resources transferred to councils as well as the suitable conditions for the transfer and management of these resources. In the same light, he added that emphasis should be laid on the training and capacity building of the different actors involved, by organising training sessions for municipal councilors and reforming the Local Government Training Centre. He ended by recommending that the laws on decentralisation be amended to tailor them to local realities.

After the discussions following this presentation, the Prime Minister gave specific instructions, which aim, on the one hand, at increasing and making the resources transferred to Councils readily available, and on the other hand, developing a national strategy on decentralisation.

The meeting continued with the statement of the Minister of Public Works on the rehabilitation and reinforcement of the MATGENIE equipment pool. The presentation revealed that, due to the economic crises our country faced, a majority of the machines and equipment of this company have become obsolete.

In view of the increasing need for maintenance and construction of road infrastructure, whose network of about 100 000Km is only maintained on a paltry portion of 20 000Km, the needs of the State and its other institutions in civil engineering equipment were estimated at about 1 500 machines, in order to reverse the trends within the context of decentralisation.

Government's strategy in this domain has consisted in rehabilitating the existing residual park with a total of about 89 rolling stocks for a total cost of CFA 1 278 billion with the signing in 2008 of a minimum objective contract, followed in 2012 by the acquiring of a batch of 120 new machines.

At the institutional level, he emphasized that the basic instrument of MATGENIE was revised and set to conform to the provisions of Law No. 99/016 of 22 December 1999 on the general status of public institutions and State-owned corporations in order to optimise its functioning.

Concerning the building of the intervention capacity of this company, he underscored that the acquiring of 1 607 machines, for a total cost of CFA 112 billion, was planned and spread over the 2011 - 2015 period. The convention to pool the equipment at MATGENIE was signed on 8 January 2014.

Concluding his statement, the Minister of Public Works insisted on the need to speed up the implementation of preparatory measures for the acquisition of these equipment, by training drivers and mechanics, as well as refurbishing the workshops. He also emphasised that after-sale services, technological choices and the cost of the equipment, should first of all be tested, in a bid to make the process lasting.

At the end of this presentation, the Head of Government enjoined the Minister of Public Works to diligently carry out the process to acquire new equipment for MATGENIE and to finalise feasibility studies for the construction of a civil engineering equipment assembly industry in Cameroon.

The meeting was adjourned at 1.05pm."

Yaounde, 30 January 2014

Louis Paul MOTAZE



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