Decentralisation: FCFA 350 Billion Transferred To Councils Since 2010

Below is a press release from the National Decentralisation Board meeting held on December 20, 2018.

 

The Prime Minister, Head of Government, His Excellency Philemon YANG, on Thursday 20 December 2018, as from 9:00 a.m. in the Cabinet Meeting Hall, chaired the second ordinary session of the National Decentralization Board for the 2018 financial year. Apart from his close aides, the meeting was attended by Members of Government, Members of Parliament, representatives of the Economic and Social Council, representatives of municipal authorities and those of civil society. Three items featured on the agenda:

1. The progress report of the Permanent Secretariat of the National Decentralization Board since the last session, presented by the Permanent Secretary;

2. The statement of the Minister for Decentralization and Local Development on: the exercise of powers by local and city councils: current situation and prospects of widening the sphere of competence local authorities;

3. The statement of the Minister for Finance on: the state of disbursement of resources transferred to local authorities in 2018 (taxes, General Allocation for operations and votes transferred by sector ministries). In his opening statement, the Prime Minister, Head of Government, pointed out that this session was coming in the wake of the President’s brilliant election to the helm of State, followed by his swearing-in on 6 November 2018. At that occasion, His Excellency Paul BIYA had placed the decentralization policy at the heart of his seven-year term by declaring that “many of the answers to the concerns and aspirations of the people will be found in the context of the acceleration of the decentralization process underway”. The Prime Minister went on to challenge Members of Government to work in a concerted and coherent manner to accelerate and deepen the process of decentralization in our country. Reporting on the activities carried out by the Permanent Secretariat of the National Decentralization Board since the last session, the Permanent Secretary indicated that the Board mostly followed up the implementation of the instructions of the Head of Government, handed down at the Board session of 7 August 2018 and inter-ministerial meetings devoted to decentralization. The Permanent Secretariat of the Board also contributed to codifying the decentralization process by reviewing the draft National Decentralization Strategy paper, examined and pre-validated by the Board on 23 May 2017, in order to incorporate recent progress made in our decentralization process. In his statement, the Minister for Decentralization and Local Development presented the current situation of the exercise of powers by local and city councils, and charted the prospects for widening the sphere of competence of these two categories of local authorities. His assessment of the exercise of powers by local and city councils since the 2010 fiscal year revealed that the State has transferred sixty-three (63) powers in areas necessary for the economic, social, health, educational and sports development of these councils. To accompany this transfer, three hundred and fifty billion (350,000,000,000) CFA Francs were allocated, via the budget of twenty (20) sector ministries concerned. Thus, the exercise of powers is satisfactory overall, despite difficulties encountered linked to councils’ poor mastery of administrative procedures, the weak capacity in project supervision, insufficient financial resources, limited skills of local human resources and public procurement-related challenges. The Minister for Decentralization and Local Development proposed solutions to tackle the difficulties and weaknesses. With regard to prospects for widening the sphere of competence of local authorities, the Minister for Decentralization and Local Development indicated that this now involves positioning local/city councils and the budgeoning Regions on the sphere of public action. Thus, after an in-depth evaluation of the 2004 decentralization laws, there are plans in January 2019, to organize a General Forum of Councils to lend fresh impetus to the organization and functioning of local authorities. For his part, the Minister for Finance presented the state of disbursement of resources to Local Authorities, as well as measures being contemplated to ease the flow of these resources, given the volume of back payments accumulated. With regard to the state of disbursement of resources to Local Authorities, he revealed that equalizable council levies for the 1st and 2nd quarters of the current year were paid for a total amount of about CFAF 37 billion. Global payments of CFAF 381,309,433 (three hundred and eighty-one million, three hundred and nine thousand four hundred and thirtythree) were made from the General Allocation for Operation. The sector ministries concerned also transferred votes to councils to the tune of nearly CFAF 150 billion. With regard measures envisaged to ease the flow of disbursements to Local Authorities, the Minister for Finance recommended that a Special Earmarked Account be opened in the books of BEAC dedicated to decentralization financing. At the end of proceedings and taking cognizance of the views and contributions of members of the Board, the Prime Minister, Head of Government, instructed:

- the Minister for Decentralization and Local Development, to:

• liaise with MINMAP, MINFI and MINEPAT, to finalize within a reasonable time the ongoing reflection aimed at providing Local Authorities with a specific public procurement system;

• organize or have others organize training sessions for Municipal Authorities and their administrative, financial and technical aides on themes linked to management of Local Authorities;

• in addition to MINTP, MINHDU and MINFI, involve the other ministries concerned, in the proceedings of the General Forum of Councils planned; - the Minister for Finance to: • proceed to pay arrears of the General Decentralization Allocation for the 2016 fiscal year;

• to take urgent measures to ease the flow of disbursement of equalizable local tax proceeds;

• liaise with MINDDEVEL and MINEPAT, to promptly organize a reflection on the financial and budgetary implications of widening the sphere of competence of Local Authorities; - the Minister for Basic Education, to liaise with MINDDEVEL, MINMAP and MINFI, to put in place a sustainable and reliable mechanism for providing the “minimum packet” to all schools concerned, before schools re-open. Proceedings were adjourned at 11:15 a.m.”

Yaounde, 20 December 2018 (s) FOUDA Séraphin Magloire, Secretary-General of the Prime Minister’s Office

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