OpinionOpinion, Opinion column

“Structural Adjustment: Not Again!” – Hon Fobi Nchinda Simon, SDF MP

Hon Fobi Nchinda Simon, SDF Member of Parliament for the Bamenda/Bali Constituency is vehemently against another structural adjustment program for…

Hon Fobi Nchinda Simon, SDF Member of Parliament for the Bamenda/Bali Constituency is vehemently against another structural adjustment program for Cameroon. Here below are his views on the subject and why he is against another structural adjustment program.

The noble Beti people of the forest regions of Cameroon say that when you’re travelling through the forest and you come to the same tree two times it means you have lost direction.

Here is Cameroon, for the second time in the Biya Regime, going cap in hand, tail between its legs, to the Bretton-wood institutions for structural adjustment! If this Beti saying is anything to go by, Cameroon has lost Direction!

Remember that in 1982 Mr. Ahidjo handed over a vibrant economy to Mr. Biya with a positive Balance of payments, and at that time Mr. Biya had announced that Cameroon would not be going to the IMF. Strangely enough, less than eight (8) years later, Cameroon was cap in hand before the IMF. What had gone wrong?

There was a combination of runaway corruption and mismanagement combined with a very high dependence on revenue from export of untransformed raw materials (Oil, Cocoa, Coffee, and Timber etc) whose prices took a nose dive on the world market to the detriment of Government revenue and our domestic economy. There was an export- import imbalance due to the fact that we grew products for the export market, that we could not consume (Cocoa, Coffee, and Timber etc) and consumed imported products (Rice, flour, fish etc) that we did not grow thus increasing the negative balance of payments.

Because of these deficits, Cameroon had to undergo not only devaluation, but a very stringent structural adjustment program. Which meant that Cameroon’s sovereignty was handed over to Bretton-woods who used draconian cuts in government expenditures, especially cuts in salary earnings, and brought all investment to a standstill? That was the decade of the “lean years”, of massive suffering of the poor working class and of peasant farmers who were hardest hit by the structural Adjustment programme.

Those were the years, when the poor famers, in order to survive, were forced to destroy their export based  primary products (Cocoa, Coffee, and Timber) to plant Plantains, Yams, Cocoyam and Cassava which they could at least eat since the export market had  collapsed. Parastatal companies were privatised or closed.

After more than a decade of these stringent measures the mighty Bretton-woods accepted to alleviate the burden though cancellation of our debts and rescheduling of other debts. This brought a sigh a relief.

You would have thought at this point that the Biya Government would have learnt its lessons! Far from it. So what did the Biya Government do?

  1. Cameroon delved in to a new borrowing Cycle -the debt is now around 5000 billion CFA which is about 30% of the Gross Domestic Product and a good part of it is invested in white elephant projects like the overestimated stadia for the 2016 and 2019 African Cup of Nations.
  2. Cameroon has not yet fully mobilized its domestic financial potential which is estimated in the hundreds of billions found in the Deposits and Guarantee Fund.
  3. A lot of the borrowed money has not yet been consumed while Cameroon is already servicing the debt.
  4. The country suffers from inefficient planning as demonstrated by the fact that dams built with loan money were almost completed before the Government began thinking of how the energy produced by these dams would be transported and distributed using a yet-to-be instituted power grid.

While the SDF condemns in the strongest terms the poor Biya management that has taken us back to the IMF, the SDF is formally enjoining the Biya Government to assure Cameroonians that with the advent of the new structural adjustment under discussions, our country will not enter, for the 2nd time, in to untold hardships and sufferings by the common man and woman as was the case during the 1st structural adjustment.


SDF MP, Bamenda/Bali Constituency

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