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Heated Debates Spice Budget Adoption

MPs grilled government on issues some of which had no relation with the issue of the day.  

On the sidelines of the adoption of the 2015 State budget at the National Assembly on Friday night breaking Saturday, Members of Parliament from all political class in the House, took government Ministers to task on diverse issues that touch on the life of the nation. Be they related or not to the issue of the day (the 2015 State budget), the MPs’ questions highlighted either issues that had already been raised or could mar government action if not handled.

The Senate Budget Again

As soon as Hon. Koa Luc, Rapporteur of the Finance and Budget Committee, finished an over two and half-hour reading of the voluminous report (106 pages in French and 95 in English languages), the Social Democratic Front (SDF) stepped in with a submission. Through its Parliamentary Group Leader, Hon. Joseph Banadzem, the SDF objected the adoption of the budget on the grounds that it was partial. They requested that the budget be sent back to the Finance Committee for re-reading. “We cannot vote an incomplete budget,” they said.

Besides arguing that the denial of the Senate to defend its budget at the Finance and Budget Committee of the National Assembly was tantamount to flouting State laws, the SDF said government on its part did not respect the standing orders of the House which stipulate that the draft budget be tabled 15 days before the opening of the budgetary session. But the usual voting on whether or not to adopt the budget brushed the SDF submission aside given the CPDM crushing majority in the House.

Chinese MA60 Planes

Transport Minister was again grilled on the price and security of Chinese-made planes (MA60) that government recently acquired. MPs wondered how similar planes which were acquired by Congo at FCFA 4 billion could be bought by Cameroon at over FCFA 30 billion. Prof. Robert Nkili reiterated that the Ministry of Transport handled solely the technical aspects of the deal, stating that financial arrangements were made by the Ministry of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development (MINEPAT).

To enlighten MPs therefore, MINEPAT boss, Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi, said all stages from identifying the needs, carrying out prospection to the cost as well as holding meetings with all stakeholders were followed. Government he said, is a team, and tasks are shared. He said detail documentation on the purchase was available and could be consulted by anyone who deems necessary.

Corruption, Public Works, P&T, Urban Transport…

On how a government Minister could be arrested, jailed and released to continue work, the Minister of State, Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, Laurent Esso said the Minister was jailed by an ordinance of the justice department and released as such and that it is not the role of justice to leave or take away someone from government. 

Other questions on the snail-pace of public works infrastructure, notably roads, possibility of transforming some hitherto post offices into community telecentres and why government was unable to give Cameroonians a comfortable and safe urban and inter-urban transport were tabled to government. Public Works Minister, Amba Salla, said road projects are lined up waiting for financing to be executed while his colleague of Transport, Robert Nkili, said government was ready to facilitate business set-up for any investor willing to invest in the sector.  

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