THE EVOLUTION OF PUBLIC FINANCES FROM INDEPENDENCE TO THE PRESENT DAY
After having known three foreign administrations (German, French and British), Cameroon became independent on 1 January 1960. This new status gives it autonomy in the management of public affairs, particularly in the management of public finances. Very early on, the young State of Cameroon took its destiny into its own hands by establishing republican institutions capable of leading public action through an administration geared towards promoting social and economic development and guaranteeing the security of property and people. The achievement of this objective has structured the institutional evolution of our nation, which is characterized by a constancy of its political and economic ideology throughout its history. Indeed, heir to the Judeo-Christian liberal tradition and the achievements of the post-revolutionary Western ideal, Cameroon has, through its various constitutions, taken the side of a liberal democracy. All its fundamental laws have always raised to the frontiers of the republican edifice the fundamental human rights guaranteed by a regime of separation of powers of a parliamentary or semi-presidential nature according to doctrinal sensibilities. Among these rights are rights relating to public financial management, particularly those that contributed to the growth of parliamentarianism resulting from the French and British revolutions, such as the right to consent to taxation and the right to control public expenditure. The consecration of freedom of enterprise and the gradual disengagement of the State from the productive sector does not obscure the almost constant option for social democracy, which places the State at the centre of the development process through a substantial supply of public goods. Thus, despite the reduction in the public sphere advocated by structural adjustment policies, the public sector has remained predominant in the national economy, its weight being expected to increase during the period of implementation of structuring projects with high consumption of public investment, and a retrospective look at the evolution of Cameroonian public finances can enable us to assess their impact on the promotion of socio-economic development, in the light of the economic performance achieved. We would conclude that despite the constant increase in public spending, the living conditions of the population have not significantly improved. Hence the low impact of public finances on social and economic progress. Among the obstacles to the establishment of a virtuous cycle of public interventions were the low share of public investment in the state budget leading to a deterioration in the supply of public goods, the absence of a strategic and programmatic vision of development, corruption and the deficit in public financial governance. The consideration of this last concern led to a diagnosis that revealed the inability of the financial regime established by the 1962 Ordinance to achieve the expected qualitative leap and incidentally recommended a renovation of the normative and institutional framework for public financial management. The initiation of this process led to the reform of the public financial system, the main demarcation line with the system hitherto in force being of a philosophical and cultural nature. Indeed, in addition to the culture of means conveyed by its predecessor, the State’s financial regime of 29 December 2007 promotes a culture of results and performance. This revolution is the main touchstone of the major changes that have taken place in our public financial governance system and is clearly one of the best prisms for analysing the evolution of Cameroon’s public finances as it moves towards economic and social prosperity.
– THE FINANCIAL REGIME OF THE POST-INDEPENDENCE STATE: THE PREEMINENCE OF A LOGIC OF MEANS
At its independence, Cameroon, like most of the former colonies…
The evolution of Cameroon’s finances since independence has been punctuated by financial and global crises, highlighting the shortcomings of the financial management system and requiring substantial reform of the state’s financial regime. The change initiated since the adoption of the 2007 Financial Regime Act will reach its decisive phase on 1 January 2013 with the presentation and execution of the budget in program mode, thus marking the entry into force of this important text in its entirety. The shock wave of this change goes beyond the public financial sphere and augurs well for a redesign of the organizational and structural framework of public administration in general. In this respect, the success of the public finance reform, one of the challenges of which is to make the public financial management system compatible with the objectives of the “Major Achievements” policy of President Paul BIYA’s seven-year term, depends on a number of factors. First, there must be a strong political commitment that allows the ideals of reform to be rapidly disseminated throughout the social body. Second, there is a need for a public financial management system based on credible macroeconomic and fiscal frameworks and an effective information system. Finally, it is imperative to have sufficient human and financial resource capacity