Cameroon’s drinking Presidency: FCFA 1.5 billion on alcohol for end of year feast, misplaced priority

Cameroon is a Central African nation plagued by sociopolitical and debt crisis, but the country’s sit-tight leader plans to spend circa FCFA 1,5 billion on alcoholic drinks during this festive season.
Indeed, the Presidency of the Republic in Cameroon is using the sum of FCFA one billion four hundred and seventy nine million six hindered and eighteen thousand two hundred and sixty three (FCFA 1 479 618 263) to purchase alcoholic drinks to celebrate the end of year feast.

This is only a bird’s eye view of how tax payer’s money is spent in Cameroon by a select few.
Alcoholic drinks recorded strong volume growth in 2018 due to the strong drinking culture in Cameroon. Social drinking is common due to the obvious lack of interesting alternative entertainment activities, with drinking pubs, bars and clubs the main recreational centres in both urban and rural areas throughout the country, even at the Presidency.

For a crisis and poverty stricken country like Cameroon where potable water, electricity, practicable roads and health care remain a luxury, the masses have every reason to cry foul in the face of this injustice.

Cameroon recorded a government debt equivalent to 34 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product in 2018. Government Debt to GDP in Cameroon averaged 45.21 percent from 1990 until 2018, reaching an all-time high of 131.44 percent in 1994 and a record low of 9.30 percent in 2008.

Despite the sorry state of the country’s economy and even after she attained the completion point of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative in 2008, the country’s ruling class has continued to pilfer and loot and rob the masses of even the basics of livelihood.

Cameroon’s total debt is 5.8 trillion Central African CFA francs ($10 billion), about a third of which is owed to China, according to the International Monetary Fund.
“Cameroon in every way, shape or form is getting worse by the day in every metric,” says Chris Roberts, a political scientist at the University of Calgary. “This regime has dismantled whatever foundations it had for a stable economy.”

With the war against Boko Haram in the Far North and that against separatists in the North West and South West regions, President Paul Biya who has been in power for 37 years may want to bleed the country’s resources dry before he meets his ancestors. He will be 87-year-old in February 2020 and his feet are already having it difficult supporting his weight.

Many are wondering if alcohol is the staple food at the presidency of the republic, given the huge sums spent on it. There are 51,350 km of roads in Cameroon, with only eight per cent paved. The rail network runs 977 km north–south from Ngaoundéré to Yaoundé, with connections between Douala and Yaoundé, and from Douala to Nkongsamba and Kumba.

There is a serious lack of infrastructure in most of the country, even in major cities. Power grids are unreliable, power surges and wide-scale blackouts are common. Many neighbourhoods lack running or potable water.

There is a noticeable lack of Western-branded, service industry-oriented businesses. In the major cities, only a handful of hotels meet Western standards.
Between December and January in Cameroon, tens of billions of tax payers’ money are spent on feasting, from the Presidency to the Senate, National Assembly, Prime Minister’s office and other ministries under the guise of end of year fast and New Year wishes. State corporations are also not left out of the wasteful spending.

While President Biya and his friends drink FCFA 1 479 618 263 today, they should not forget that many are those without shelter in the North West and South West regions who only want a return to peace so they can fend for themselves.

Mimi Mefo Info Editorial

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