The increase to FCFA 65 billion from the usual FCFA35 billion was prompted by rising security and humanitarian issues in the Far North, East, North West and South West Regions.
In the past years, government paid little attention to potential security threats, and this year some further mathematics had to come into play for security needs to be met whenever unforeseen situations came up. Such was the case when Boko Haram launched attacks on Cameroonian territory; citizens had to contribute money and other resources to sustain soldiers at war.
Sources in the Ministry of Finance say government formally allocated a total sum of FCFA 35 billion for national security in the State budget every year; an amount which the International Monetary Fund reportedly found insignificant.
The State however managed to get by with the amount under the burden of the war against terrorism and handling a refugee situation which till date, remains extremely underfunded by the international community.
Cameroon currently counts hundreds of thousands of Nigerian and Central African Republic refugees and internally displaced persons, IDPs resident in camps and host communities in the Far North, Adamawa and East regions. There seem to be no end in sight for drivers of the crises, namely Boko Haram insurgency and civil conflict in CAR.
Cameroon’s security burden was further worsened recently when the ongoing conflict in the North West and South West Regions metamorphosed into an armed conflict with recurrent deadly shootouts between armed groups and units of the national defence forces. With such growing security threats, an increase in the national security budget to support urgent response strategies became unavoidable.
As such, it had to be raised from the regular FCFA 35 billion to FCFA 65 billion, representing an increase of FCFA 30 billion in absolute terms. It should be noted however that the budget which currently stands at FCFA 65 billion is in a common fund from which money is only disbursed under orders of the Head of State.
Note however that the said budget is independent of those of the Ministry of Defence and the General Delegation for National Security. The budget of the Ministry of Defence, over FCFA 240 billion, was drawn up to reflect the complex security threats in the country. In that regard, fighting organised crimes, strengthening the rule of law and ensuring the security of persons and property within the country were outlined as priority areas.
That of the General Delegation for National Security dropped from FCFA 89.460 in 2017 to FCFA 83.947 this year. But both institutions have the privilege to request extra money from the security fund to finance urgent projects and programmes.
The Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation which hosts an inter-ministerial committee in charge of humanitarian assistance, also has the privilege to tap from the fund with approval from the Head of State.