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#COVID19: Cameroon’s Finance Minister Demands Audit Of 180 Billion FCFA Fund

Cameroon is calling for an audit of US$360 million meant for the fight against COVID-19 pandemic following demands for an independent evaluation of the spending of the fund due to allegations of mismanagement.

Louis Paul Motaze, Cameroon’s Minister of Finance, has launched a tender for the manifestation of interest in the audit and evaluation of the management of the 180 billion FCFA (about US$360 million) allocated for COVID-19 management in the country.

The demand for an independent audit comes as a result of a public outcry against the perceived mismanagement of the 180 billion FCFA set aside for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

It also comes after Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, the Secretary General in the Presidency on Dec. 15, 2020 addressed a letter to the Minister of Finance calling on him to allocate the sum of 32.5 million FCFA (about US$64,000) to cover the cost of a mission by state auditors with a view to auditing the funds allocated to the Ministry of Public Health for the fight against COVID-19.

According to the terms of the tender, the independent auditor would be expected to “give an opinion on the procedures of attribution of contracts concerning the COVID-19, the pertinence and transparence of the information published on the assignees of COVID-19 contracts and on the beneficiaries of the said attributions.”

The selected audit firm would among other things ensure “the conformity of the management of the resources to the procedures in force pertaining to the management of public finances as well as to the dispositions of the law concerning the code of transparency and good governance in the management of public finances in Cameroon.”

Cameroon has already spent 34 billion FCFA (about US$68 million)  on rapid coronavirus tests and other health incidentals without the approbation of the Prime Minister, Dr Dion Ngute, who had on July 22, 2020 signed a decree fixing the modalities for distributing the 180 billion FCFA COVID-19 fund.

Article 5, line three of the said Prime Ministerial text attributes the audit on the utilisation of the funds set aside for the fight against the COVID-19 to the Audit Chamber of the Supreme Court, which report would eventually be sent to parliament.

But this Prime Ministerial decree was strongly challenged by Mbah Acha Fomundam, the Minister in charge of State Control,  who saw this as a serious infringement on the principles governing the control of public finances.

It was this disagreement between the Prime Minister and the Minister Delegate at the Presidency in charge of the Supreme State Control that has forced the Minister of Finance to demand the services of an independent auditor.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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