The crisis among various ministries of the Cameroonian government over which state organ should audit the disbursement of COVID-19 funds may scuttle the country’s new programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
On Monday, March 29, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, the Secretary-General in the Presidency addressed a letter to the Minister Delegate at the Presidency in charge of the Supreme State Control, Rose Acha Fomundam, instructing her to accelerate the auditing funds put at the disposal of different public administrations in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Cameroon.
According to the letter, the presentation of the report of the said audit “would facilitate the conclusion of a new financial and economic programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).”
While the letter from the Secretary-General at the Presidency inferred that the report of the audit by state controllers was being awaited by the IMF, Prime Minister Dion Ngute had on July 22, 2020, signed a decree instructing that the auditing of the management of the COVID-19 funds had to be carried out by the Audit Bench of the Supreme Court.
Sources at the Prime Minister’s office told HumAngle that the choice of the Audit Bench of the Supreme Court to do the auditing of the management of the COVID-19 funds was demanded by international lending partners who support Cameroon in its fight against the pandemic.
On the strength of the demand by the international lending partners and despite protests by the Minister in charge of the Supreme State Control, the Audit Bench of the Supreme Court dispatched missions to certain ministries in Oct. 2020 to start the auditing of the management of the coronavirus funds.
On Dec. 15, 2020, the Secretary-General wrote a letter to the Minister of Finance, Louis Paul Motaze instructing him to make available the sum of 32.5 million FCFA (about US$64,000) to cover the expenses related to the auditing of the COVID-19 funds by the Supreme State Control.
In a further twist in the battle over the auditing of the COVID-19 funds, the same Minister of Finance, Louis Paul Motaze, who is Cameroon’s representative in negotiations with the IMF, in Feb. this year published a tender notice for the manifestation of interest for the preselection of consultants with a view to conducting an independent audit of public expenditure linked to the COVID-19 pandemic in Cameroon.
“All indications now point to the fact that if the conclusion of a new economic and financial accord between the IMF and the Cameroonian government depends on the auditing of the management of Covid-19 funds, then the current imbroglio between the various ministerial departments in the country might only go to slow down the negotiation process,” opined an economist working for an international auditing consultancy in Yaounde.
The audit at the heart of the current haggling by ministers in Cameroon concerns several billion FCFA including the 180 billion FCFA solidarity fund decreed by the head of state Paul Biya, a 214 billion FCFA facility according to the country by the IMF as well as donations by local business enterprises within the context of a national solidarity fund put in place to fight against the coronavirus.