BY NDUMBE BELL JOSEPH GASTON IN DOUALA
Reports just coming in say relations between BEAC and economic operators in Cameroon and CEMAC in general have been strained because of BEAC’s discovery of a colossal FCFA 400 billion foreign exchange reserve deficit in fiscal 2020.
The Central Bank, to catch the culprits introduced a new exchange regulation last March where economic agents in CEMAC zone have to allocate clearance processes to those who did importation of goods and services to show proof of having actually imported those goods and services.
The new regulations had since made economic operators jittery. Regrouping under the largest association of economic operators in Cameroon, GICAM, the group last addressed a protest on April 16 to Cameroon’s Finance minister to highlight the constraints of BEAC’s measures in a letter signed by Celestin Tawamba,commenting that the project “will have a negative impact on the economic activity of the country,” one of their demands being to get the finance minister’s meeting of the region to call on BEAC to show greater flexibility or soften their stand.
Louis Paul Motaze, Cameroon’s minister of Finance had to call for a meeting last April 27, comprising the Central Bank, GICAM and APECAM to deepen investigations on the matter.
In that meeting, some participants called the Central Bank eccentric, an administrative bottleneck and an economic disaster denying that they were not a party to the foreign exchange reserve deficit. They rejected the 3-month deadline given by BEAC to economic operators to gather the necessary documentation which was said to be too choked to fulfil, and outlined their reasons.
Such needed documents include receipt for payment of customs duties and taxes, the final invoice, bill of lading, the provisional revenue and bank domicile account documents.
APECAM complained that the reform was too erratic while GICAM’s president said that “Regulations are important for the sustainability of our currency. But it is clear today that too much regulation is an obstacle to economic activity, to allow companies to benefit from the support measures put in place by BEAC for disaster stricken companies to change the prudential measures at the level of the central bank” during a meeting on April 14 between GICAM and APECAM.
However, the central bank officials of this meeting declared that all the accusations of the economic operators were simply to kill or dodge the regulations and “illegally release CEMAC currencies”. According to BEAC, Cameroon is the only CEMAC country whose foreign currency outflows are greater than the inflow. A BEAC executive under Mahamat Tolli of BEAC put it this way “An economy of fraud is developing in Cameroon through imports of goods and services. Economic agents are champions in this fraud and develop through organisations”.