Rising Food Prices Accelerate Inflation By 3.3%

In February of this year, Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon, saw a new rise in inflation. “The general level of prices increased by 3.3%, after +2.9% the previous month and +2% in February 2021,” the National Institute of Statistics (INS) said in a recent report.

   This situation in Douala is mainly driven by the increase in food prices (+8.2% in February 2022, after +7.9% the previous month), as well as those of education (+3.6%, after +3.4% the previous month).

      Regarding food products, the stats agency points out that during the period under review, “the prices of imported food products increased by 9.6% YoY, and those of local products by 7.7%”. This is the result of the explosion of maritime freight costs, as well as the soaring prices of agricultural raw materials and crude oil. This reality, which started with the Covid-19 pandemic, has been aggravated by the Russia-Ukraine war.

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Cameroonian Poultry Farmers Ask For State Support To Overcome The Crisis

François Djonou (photo), head of the Cameroon Poultry Interprofession (IPAVIC), said in a recent interview with Cameroon Tribune that households have nothing to worry about concerning the availability of chicken on the local market during the upcoming Easter holidays. “To produce more chickens during Easter, poultry farmers have increased orders for day-old chicks. The brooders, too, had made arrangements to produce enough day-old chicks,” he said.

      However, after Easter, supply will drastically decline. “I fear that this (the availability of chicken, ed) will not last long enough. The health crises and the war in Ukraine have had a devastating impact on the poultry industry. As a solution, we are asking the state to intervene and provide a subsidy to offset the high costs,” François Djonou said.

      Indeed, as is the case in several production sectors in Cameroon, local poultry farmers are dependent on external partners for inputs such as hatching eggs and day-old chicks. The import bills have become more expensive in recent months due to the explosion in freight costs, following the ongoing war in Ukraine.

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State-Employer Consultations On Inflation Are Biased

–         Expert

Members of the government and the association of economic operators have been meeting for several weeks to discuss the current inflation crisis in the country. While they are still trying to find a solution to get out of the crisis, Cameroonian accountant, David François Nyeck, said there is bias in the process.

                He says that for meetings to be successful, companies must be transparent about their accounts. In an open letter, the accountant believes that it is the certified accounts of companies that must serve as a reliable basis for discussions between the authorities and the business community. “Without reliable accounts, there is no possibility of getting the right selling price. Without reliable accounts, no dialog with the public authorities can be free of suspicion,” he argues. 

             During a meeting held last March 18 with the government, the employers’ grouping Gicam highlighted the additional costs generated by the current situation.             But in the absence of company accounts, it is impossible to evaluate how this impacts their markets. Similarly, it is difficult to know whether the companies, which are threatening to stop supplying the market in the second half of 2022 if they receive no government support, have themselves made efforts to reduce some of their non-essential costs.

      David François Nyeck believes that this non-transparency which is however counterproductive for businesses is “cultural” in Cameroon. “When you ask local businessmen why they find it difficult to finance their companies, they will tell you everything but the essential. They think they will get in trouble with the government if they are transparent about their business,” the expert said.

     The situation is such that the window available for business financing at the Douala Stock Exchange (Bvmac) remains underused. According to available data, only three companies based in Cameroon are listed on the exchange. These are SEMC (a subsidiary of Castel), Socapalm (a subsidiary of Socfin), and Safacam (a subsidiary of Socfin).

Sylvain Andzongo

Irad Calls For The Inclusion Of 10% Cassava Flour In Bread

The Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (Irad) suggested in a note published April 6, to include 10% of cassava flour in wheat flour for bread production.

        The institute calls for a law to be put in place. “This measure would generate the production of 680,200 tons of tubers, 34,000 ha of fields and 6,000 direct jobs and more than CFA11 billion in savings each year,” IRAD said.

      According to the agency, the inclusion of local flours into bread production will reduce wheat imports and contribute to the structural transformation of the Cameroonian economy. As a reminder, Cameroon has adopted the import-substitution policy as part of its National Development Strategy 2020-30 to establish its food sovereignty.

     Until Irad’s suggestion is taken into account, the country continues to import wheat flour. According to data from the International Trade Centre, Cameroon spent more than CFA548 billion on wheat imports between 2012 and 2017. In 2020 alone, the country imported 860,000 tons of wheat flour for CFA156 billion.

Data projects the figure to increase by 30,000 tons this year to about 900,000 tons. According to Irad, wheat is the leading cereal consumed in Cameroon after corn and rice.

Sylvain Andzongo

Govt Formalizes Partnership With Banks On Tax Payment Platform E-Guce

The Cameroonian Finance Minister presided yesterday over the signing ceremony of the memorandum of understanding relating to the payment of customs duties, taxes and levies on the Guce’s electronic platform known as e-Guce. The ceremony took place in Yaoundé between members of the government, credit institutions and the single window for foreign trade (Guce).

      Online tax payments have been in place for several years in Cameroon, but the new MOU will give Guce access to reliable partners to fund the maintenance of its platform and boost its functional, technical, and operational performance. “E-governance has become an essential approach to address the issues of performance and competitiveness within administrations, organizations, and businesses,” Isidore Biyiha, CEO of Guce, said while speaking about the importance of digitalization in improving the performance of both the public administration and the private sector.

For example, according to the activity report of the Ministry of Finance, the digitization of payments boosted customs revenue on vehicles by 53% in 2021. The amount went from CFA132 billion in 2020 to CFA201 billion in 2021.

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Govt Collected CFA6.5 Trillion+ Via E-Guce Platform Over The Past Decade

Over the past ten years, the Cameroonian government collected more than CFA6.5 trillion on the online platform dedicated for taxes, duties and levies payment e-Guce. The information was reported yesterday by Isidore Biyiha, who heads the Single Window of Foreign trade (Guce).

“The amount collected by the government via payment transactions on the platform went from more than CFA123 billion in 2012 to about CFA880 billion in 2021. This makes a cumulative amount of more than CFA6, 500 billion over the decacde,” he said.

     According to him, “this performance is the result of the constant and ingenious collaboration between the Guce and experts from the DGTCFM (Directorate General of the Treasury, Financial and Monetary Cooperation, ed), customs, the DGI (Directorate General of Taxes, ed), banks, and many other actors, to provide innovative solutions tailored for the country’s realities”.

    These figures reflect the crucial role the Guce platform plays in the national system of collection and securing of public revenues, in particular, and more globally in the process of establishing a digital ecosystem in Cameroon.

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