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To Cameroon IMF Doles Out $76 Million No Mention of Killings By Biya Who Bans Journalists Like Guterres Does

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon

UN GATE, Jan 21 – After Inner City Press repeatedly asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and his spokesman about Cameroon's Internet cut-off and abuses, the UN's answer after its Resident Coordinator was shown to block the Press and then left for the Central African Republic was that the UN Office on Central Africa (UNOCA) envoy Francois Lounceny Fall would be visiting. This turned out to be misleading like so much with today's UN system, which since July 5, 2018 has banned Inner City Press for covering the UN's Budget Committee and the deal UNSG Antonio Guterres is said by sources close to him have made with Cameroon as chair of the committee (Fox News story here, GAP blogs I and II)

Now on 21 January 2020 the IMF is doling out yet another $76.1 million to Biya's government without mentioning his killings in SW and NW nor that he lives, on the cash, in Geneva. Here's from the announcement: "The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today completed the fifth review of the arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) for Cameroon. The completion of the review enables the disbursement of SDR55.2 million (about US$76.1 million), bringing total disbursements under the arrangement to SDR427.8 million (about US$590 million).  The Executive Board also approved the authorities’ request for a waiver of nonobservance of the continuous performance criteria on the non-accumulation of new external payments arrears, based on the corrective actions taken by the authorities.  Cameroon’s three-year arrangement was approved on June 26, 2017 for SDR 483 million (about US$666.1 million, or 175 percent of Cameroon’s quota— see Press Release No.17/248 ). The arrangement aims at supporting the country’s efforts to restore external and fiscal sustainability and to lay the foundations for a more sustainable, inclusive and private sector-led growth.  Following the Executive Board discussion, Mr. Mitsuhiro Furusawa, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, made the following statement:  "Cameroon’s performance under the ECF-supported program has been mixed. All end-June 2019 performance criteria have been met but four out of the five indicative targets for end-June were missed. Structural reforms are advancing but with delays.  "Cameroon is supporting the CEMAC’s regional external and financial stability through fiscal consolidation and enforcement of foreign exchange regulations. It will be important to also fully align the new Petroleum Code with the BEAC’s foreign exchange regulation.  "Staying the course on fiscal consolidation is essential for building fiscal and external buffers. The authorities are encouraged to broaden the non-oil revenue base, reduce discretionary tax exemptions, combat tax fraud and evasion, and enhance tax and customs administration. Completion of the Treasury Single Account reform and reduced recourse to direct interventions and exceptional spending procedures will help improve cash management and budget execution and strengthen fiscal transparency and budget credibility.  "Urgently addressing financial and fiscal risks associated with the National Oil Refinery (SONARA) is critical. SONARA’s corporate restructuring should be based on a thorough cost-benefit analysis of all available options. The planned audits of four large state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and the clearance of government cross-debts with state-owned enterprises and of government arrears will help mitigate contingent risks.  "Cameroon is at high risk of debt distress. To safeguard debt sustainability, it is important to strictly adhere to the disbursement plan for contracted-but-undisbursed loans and to limit nonconcessional borrowing to macrocritical projects for which concessional financing is not available.  "Enhancing the business climate and governance is key to promoting private sector-led and inclusive growth. Bold actions must be taken to strengthen contract enforcement, improve compliance with the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) recommendations and AML/CFT standards, reduce nonperforming loans, and resolve ailing banks. Further steps to diversify the export base and enhance investment efficiency remain essential to unlock Cameroon’s growth potential.  "Cameroon’s program continues to be supported by policies and reforms by the regional institutions in the areas of foreign exchange regulation and monetary policy and a recovery in regional net foreign assets that is critical to the program’s success." Reforms? Biya lives in Geneva and has journalists beaten up there. This is a new low for the IMF. UNreal.

Previously the IMF published a report on Cameroon, including touching on the economic impact of the "anglophone crisis." The IMF report states: "The current anglophone crisis takes its roots in Cameroon’s unification in 1961. The 1972 constitution replaced federalism with a unitary state. Throughout the years, the anglophone population, which resides mostly in the north-west and south-west regions and account for 20 percent of Cameroon’s total population of 25 million, has demanded more autonomy and rights, while the state has become increasingly centralized. They founded the largest opposition party (Social Democratic Front) in the 1990s.
The crisis has escalated to an armed separation movement with rising humanitarian costs. The crisis started in October 2016 with strikes by lawyers and teachers and was followed by a boycott of schools, protests and ghost towns. It subsequently morphed into an armed movement for independence marked by violence on both sides, which escalated in recent months to killings and detentions, burning and looting of villages, and kidnappings of government officials and civilians. Despite a heavy military presence, the insecurity has spread leading to rising humanitarian costs. The United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that more than 20,000 people have fled to Nigeria, and 160,000 have become internally displaced persons (IDPs). This adds to the burden from 340,000 refugees from Nigeria and the Central African Republic. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees estimates that the cost of assisting refugees and IDPs in Cameroon has risen to US$87 million, of which only US$15 million are funded. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the anglophone crisis is taking a toll on the economy. A rigorous quantification is difficult because of lack of adequate data. However, real exports of coffee and cocoa, grown mostly in the anglophone areas, have decreased by about 10 percent in 2017. Coffee export volumes further declined by 72 percent in the first quarter of 2018 (y/y). Tax revenues decreased by 8–9 percent in both regions in 2017 compared with 2016, due to lower economic activity and difficulties to collect taxes. Additional security expenses amounted to 0.4 percent of GDP in 2017 and at least 0.2 percent of GDP in 2018."

While the UN Security Council visited Cameroon during the 94 day Internet cut off and said nothing publicly about it (but see below), Inner City Press has obtained and has exclusively published on Patreon and now Scribd, here Cameroon's "Urgent and Confidential" letter to the UN Security Council, about weapons. On May 23, 2018 - before being roughed up and banned from the UN -- Inner City Press went to the New York event for Cameroon's "National" Day, which was boycotted in the Anglophone regions of the country. In New York, however, UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammad and Antonio Guterres' Chef de Cabinet Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti attended, along with French Permanent Representative to the UN Francois Delattre, Burundi's Albert Shingiro and others. Video here.

 Periscope inside was not possible due, ironically, to a lack of Internet. There were toasts in French for Chantalle Biya and for the UN officials; on the way out UN staffers told Inner City Press it was sure to criticize them. What matters, as always, is what happens going forward. Italy is a member of the Security Council this year, and on the morning of May 18 including in light of Italian President Mattarella's meetings this year with Cameroon's 34 year president Paul Biya, Inner City Press asked Italy's Mission to the UN: "your Mission was part of the Security Council's trip including to Cameroon earlier this year, during the country's 94-day Internet shut off to millions of people in the Northwest and Southwest (or Anglophone) regions. The IMF, for what it's worth, told Inner City Press the government's Internet cut off is among other things a financial risk in 2017. Could you comment on your Mission's aware of the issue, during the Security Council visit to Cameroon and since, and on whether you believe the Secretary General and DPA, as a matter of prevention of conflict, may have a greater role to play in this long-standing, UN-related conflict or dispute?" Eight hours later, the Italian Mission's spokesperson Giovanni Davoli replied on Cameroon that "the situation you are mentioning was not in the agenda of the UNSC visit."Corruption.


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