#COVID19: Cameroon Increases Solidarity Fund To 400 Million US Dollars

The initial amount approved for the solidarity fund was $300 million and has been increased to reflect new realities.

Cameroon’s President, Paul Biya, has signed a decree adjusting the 2021 budget to make for the provision of an extra 200 billion FCFA (about US$400 million) to the National Solidarity Fund for the fight against the coronavirus.

The initial budgetary allocation for the fund contained in the national budget voted by the National Assembly in Nov. 2020 stood at 150 billion FCFA (about US$300 million).

This augmentation of the allocation for the fight against COVID-19, signed by the president on Monday, June 7, 2021 comes while there are suspicions concerning the management of the first money provided to the National Solidarity Fund.

The suspicions arose following a preliminary report by the Audit Bench of the Supreme Court which had examined the management of funds provided for the fight against COVID-19 both by the government and international sponsors.

The audit itself was demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a prerequisite for the provision of further financial support to Cameroon’s first against the COVID-19.

Since the publication of the preliminary report, several ministers suspected to have pilfered the funds have been summoned to the Special Criminal Tribunal which was created to handle cases involving misappropriation of state funds amounting to more than 50 million FCFA (about US$100,000).

In the frenzy that has seized the national psyche especially among members of government, a spate of burglaries has been reported in the offices of the Supreme State Control which is also charged with auditing the management of COVID-19 funds allocated to various ministerial departments.

Documents and computers containing information that is said to implicate several individuals involved in the mismanagement of the COVID-19 funds were taken away by the thieves.

“The augmentation of the budgetary allocation to the solidarity fund for the fight against the coronavirus is an indication and confirmation of speculations that the initial funds intended for the fight have actually been embezzled by the various actors involved in its management,” a senior source in the Ministry of Finance who opted for anonymity because she is not authorised to speak for the ministry told HumAngle.

“The transfer of the management of coronavirus funds to the presidency does not reassure anybody when one knows that the funds would be managed by the same people who embezzled hundreds of billions of FCFA allocated for the construction of infrastructures to host the 2020 African Nations Cup that resulted in the withdrawal of the hosting rights from Cameroon,” a civil society activist in Yaounde who refused to divulge his name declared.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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