By NOELA EBOB BISONG
H.E. Chief Dr. Joseph Dion Ngute, Prime Minister/Head of Government in the Republic of Cameroon, on April 30, 2020 uplifted some measures which few weeks ago were instituted by government to curb the spread of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Cameroon. However, the PM equally announced new measures taken by the state to ease the weight of the crisis on citizens. Some of the new nineteen (19) measures announced by PM Dion Ngute include:
Opening after 6 p.m. of bars, restaurants and places of leisure, with obligation for customers and users to respect the barrier measures, in particular the wearing of a protective mask, social protection and distancing; Lifting of the measure reducing the number passenger regulations in all transport shared by bus and taxis. Wearing a mask remaining mandatory and overloading prohibited; The suspension for the 2nd quarter of 2020 of general accounting checks, except in the case of suspicious tax behaviour; The postponement of the deadline for filing Declarations, Statistics and Taxes without penalties in case of payment of the corresponding balance; Granting moratoriums and deferred payments to companies directly affected by the crisis, suspending forced recovery measures; Support for corporate treasury through the allocation of a special envelope of 25 billion of FCFA, for the clearance of stocks of credits from VAT pending reimbursement; Postponement to September 30, 2020 of the payment period of property tax for fiscal year 2020; Full deductibility for the determination of corporate tax on gifts and donations granted by companies for the fight against COVID-19 pandemic; The exemption from the Tourist tax in the sector of hotels and restaurants for the rest of the fiscal year 2020 beginning in March; Exemption from the withholding tax and the tax parking for taxis and motorcycle taxis.
Others further include: The spread over three months of the payment of the social security debt for the months of April, May and June 2020, on justified request; Maintaining, for the next three months, the payment of family allowances to company personnel who cannot pay social security contributions or have not paid their staff on technical leave due to the decline economic activity, particularly in the catering, hotels, transport; Increasing the level of family allowances from 2,800 FCFA to 4,500 FCFA; and the 20% increase in the level of old pensions that did not benefit from the revaluation automatic due to the 2016 reform.
According to the PM, “In addition, the President of the Republic decided to extend, for an additional period of 15 days, renewable if necessary, other measures taken on March 17, 2020, as part of the response against the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The news has been received with mixed feelings by Cameroonians. While some celebrate that their businesses will again come back to life, others question why nothing is mentioned about the fate of schools and churches. Equally, some hold that the lifting of the curfew on bars and transport sectors will only go to help spread the virus, as many will quickly go back to their normal lives styles. While Cameroon has recorded over a thousand recovered cases of the COVID-19, pundits hold that government should not be too confident in relaxing measures against the spread of the virus.