Cameroon House debates rising national debt

Cameroonian President Paul Biya. FILE | NATION MDIA GROUP 

A Bill seeking to raise the Cameroon debt ceiling is undergoing scrutiny in parliament.

Members of the Finance and Budget Committee of the National Assembly began scrutinising the Bill in Yaoundé on Monday.

Cameroon’s debt level currently stands at 30 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which according to the Finance minister, Mr Alamine Ousmane Mey, “is sustainable”.

Mr Mey said the move to raise the debt level was to enable the government undertake some of the projects in it’s development plan.

Raise the ceiling

The Central African nation was seeking to raise the ceiling of non-concessional borrowing from $854 million (FCFA 500bn) lion to $2,050 million (FCFA 1,200bn), while concessional loans remains at $854 million (FCFA 500bn).

“We have made analysis in terms of viability and sustainability and these are all okay, and we want to continue. This is the mission we have at the Ministry of Finance through our National Debt Commission,” Mr Mey said.

Contrary to popular opinion that the Bill would overburden future generations, the Finance minister said it was important that the debt level was kept under control “so that future generations should be able to take advantage of the investments we are making today”.

Attract investments

Should the National Assembly vet the Bill, it will go through a second scrutiny at the Senate before President Paul Biya, who has ruled Cameroon since 1982, signs it into law.

According to the World Bank, economic activity in Cameroon slowed in 2016.

Cameroon's GDP growth was estimated to reach 5.6 per cent by the end of December 2016, 0.2 points below its level in 2015.

The institution holds that the country suffered from weak governance, hindering its development and ability to attract investments.

Cameroon was ranked 130th out of 168 countries in the 2015 Transparency International corruption perceptions index, and 172nd out of 189 economies in the 2016 Doing Business Report.

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