President Paul Biya has admonished officials of his Government against buying ostentatious vehicles that afflict a huge financial burden on the State.
This is one of the recommendations the President made in a recent circular in which he gave orientations on the 2018 draft budget.
The President’s warning is directed at the fraternity of a racket in the administration in which expensive cars are bought every year.
The purchase of such cars, a source in one of the Ministries told The Post, is not predicated on the necessity of service, but on individual gains.
He said such cars that are usually bought in violation of administrative procedures, are purchased only because some “big men” are bent on making personal gains.
According to official statistics, Government bought over 14,000 administrative vehicles in 2015.
Most of such cars belong to sovereign State institutions. Such cars were bought without the approval of the Prime Minister as recommended by the administrative rules.
The craze in the administration has been the purchase of the most expensive service cars even when it is not necessary.
One observer said officials who move only from their official residences to their offices in Yaounde bought very expensive Four-wheel Drive Prados. “What for?” he questioned.
The Post learnt that some greedy officials have decided to put the State in permanent pecuniary difficulties by buying about four to five expensive service cars for themselves.
Yet, the irony is that even in such affluence, many workers in the various Government departments who are not in influential positions lack vehicles to do their job.
The vehicle-buying mafia in the Ministries seems to have been fully galvanised against any checks.
A Government text states clearly that a new car is supposed to be used for at least five years.
But, officials have made it a norm to buy cars every year so that they can auction the previous ones to themselves.
Besides the abusive buying of such cars, which the officials misuse them, the cars impose on additional burden on Government in terms of maintenance. Many of such officials refuse to take the cars to the administrative garage so that they can easily strike their deals with certain private mechanics.
In his austerity prescriptions, President Biya has also called for a halt on the reckless consumption of water and electricity in Government offices.
In such offices, people do not care to switch off electricity before going home. Certain bulbs are allowed to shine continuously for weeks and even monthly.
Taps in some public offices are allowed to flow non-stop. This explains why the water management company, CDE, is asking Government water bills of FCFA 2 billion, corresponding to some seven months arrears.
The State is said to owe the electricity management outfit, ENEO, even a bigger amount.
The President equally warned that the water and electricity bills of public offices must not exceed a certain amount because the State is going through trying economic moments.
Biya has also recommended the cutting down of rates in the official price list that are deemed exorbitant.
For instance, a realm of paper that should normally cost FCFA 2,500 is supplied for FCFA 13,000 in Government offices.
A packet of biros that normally should cost FCFA 3,500, costs FCFA 13,000 when someone wins a supplying contract.
According to the official price list, the USB Key that costs FCFA 5,000 is supplied in public offices at FCFA 15,000.
A scientific calculator that costs at most FCFA 10,000 is supplied at FCFA 36,000.
President Biya wants these rates to be cut down to a reasonable rate so that the State can heave a sigh of financial relieve.
In the June 20 circular, Biya also cries out against the huge sums of money that leave the national treasury to public enterprises as State subsidies.
He has called for a review of the situation, given that, such enterprises that are poorly managed are more of liabilities to the State than assets.
He told officials that the State will pay more attention to subsidising private education.
In 2017, the State allocated FCFA 2.3 billion as subvention to private education.
President Biya later made a special offer of FCFA 2 billion, swelling the total amount to 4.3 billion in 2017.
There is pressure on administrative public establishments to start looking for funding elsewhere.
Thus, outfits like the Public Contracts Regulatory Board, Standard and Quality Control Agency, the Special Council Support Fund for Mutual Assistance and the Local Material Promotion Agency, will have only tiny packages of State subsidies in 2018.
The spirit and letter of the June 20 Presidential Circular is to curtail public expenditure by ensuring budgetary discipline in the management of State resources.
This is incumbent on Government, especially at time that the country is undergoing an economic recovery programme with the International Monetary Fund, IMF.
The Post Newspaper