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Cameroon and the IMF

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Public Information Notice (PIN) No. 02/138
December 24, 2002
International Monetary Fund
700 19th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20431 USA

IMF Concludes 2002 Article IV Consultation with Cameroon

Public Information Notices (PINs) are issued, (i) at the request of a member country, following the conclusion of the Article IV consultation for countries seeking to make known the views of the IMF to the public. This action is intended to strengthen IMF surveillance over the economic policies of member countries by increasing the transparency of the IMF's assessment of these policies; and (ii) following policy discussions in the Executive Board at the decision of the Board. The staff report (use the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this pdf file) for the 2002 Article IV consultation with Cameroon is also available.

On September 18, 2002, the Executive Board concluded the Article IV consultation with Cameroon.1


During the last five years, the Cameroonian economy has benefited from improved macroeconomic performance and the progress made in implementing structural reforms. Real GDP growth averaged 5 percent per annum during 1996/97-2000/01, in sharp contrast to the negative growth rates of the previous decade. While income from the oil sector fluctuated, the expansion of the non-oil sector contributed importantly to the improved overall growth performance. To promote macroeconomic stability, the fiscal position was substantially strengthened through improved revenue mobilization and prudent expenditure policies. Steps were taken to promote good governance, transparency, and accountability in both public expenditure management and tax administration. With these policies, the authorities were able to restore macroeconomic stability, normalize relations with external official and commercial creditors, and increase spending in the key social sectors of health and education. The process of implementing important structural reforms in the transportation and forestry sectors was also started, the banking system was rehabilitated, and some progress was made under the privatization program.

Looking ahead, however, Cameroon will need to achieve much higher growth rates of real GDP on a sustained basis, in order to reduce poverty substantially. This will be a particularly challenging task, in light of a steeper than initially projected decline in oil production over the medium and long term. With the resulting weaker oil revenue outlook, Cameroon will be faced with the difficult challenge of allocating more resources for the development of the social sectors and investment in basic infrastructure while maintaining macroeconomic stability. Building on the efforts made so far, more needs to be done to expand the health and education services, invest in basic economic infrastructure, improve governance, and accelerate the structural reforms that are essential for promoting private investment and growth in non-oil output and exports.

During the first half of the second annual program (October 2001-March 2002), economic activity expanded at a somewhat slower pace than projected, reflecting recurrent shortages in electricity supply, but remained strong (growing at an annual rate of 4.6 percent). There was notable growth in the services sector because of the ongoing construction of the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline. The 12-month national consumer price inflation rate increased to 4.8 percent in March 2002, driven by high foodstuff prices.

The fiscal primary surplus was somewhat smaller than targeted. Noninterest current expenditure was slightly above target, as moderate overruns in outlays on transfers and subsidies were not offset by savings derived from holding spending on the wage bill and on other goods and services below the budget ceiling. Cameroon's external position strengthened. All end-March 2002 quantitative performance criteria and benchmarks were observed. Based on preliminary data for the second quarter of 2002, the fiscal outcome for the fiscal year ended June 2002 is estimated to have been broadly as budgeted. The growth prospects for 2002 remain good.

On the policy front, the authorities pursued their efforts to improve domestic tax administration and collection. A new General Tax Code (Code Général des Impôts), including a manual of tax procedures, was promulgated. In the governance area, new budget classifications were adopted and an action plan for the establishment of a body to conduct external audits of the state finances was formulated. The investigation of 48 identified cases of saisie-attribution (execution of a judiciary order under which a person's money in possession or under control of another entity, such as a bank, is applied to the payment of debt owed to a third party, along with the imposition of excessive penalties and limited recourse to appeal) was completed as scheduled. However, the reform of the public procurement system slowed. Notwithstanding some delay, the implementation of the second stage of the action plan to introduce, by September 2003, an integrated computerized fiscal and information system to manage government revenue and expenditure-a critical measure for enhancing public expenditure management-was put in place in late July 2002. Progress in HIPC completion point-related structural reforms has resumed since May, resulting in an extension of the World Bank's SAC III. Work on the preparation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper is proceeding.

Executive Board Assessment

Executive Directors were in broad agreement with the thrust of the staff appraisal. They noted that Cameroon had achieved a significant improvement in macroeconomic performance over the past five years, as a result of strong efforts to strengthen the fiscal position and progress in implementing structural reforms. Performance continued to be satisfactory in 2001/02, with real GDP growth, as well as the fiscal and external positions, remaining strong.

Directors indicated that despite these achievements, Cameroon's medium to long-term outlook remains fragile, particularly in view of the steeper-than-projected decline in oil output. They stressed that progress in reducing poverty on a sustained basis would require much higher growth rates. In that respect, they underscored the need for diversifying the economy and promoting private investment by speeding up the implementation of key structural reforms, and consolidating the fiscal position.

Directors welcomed the authorities' efforts to strengthen revenue administration and budget management in 2001/02, and their adherence to a cautious fiscal stance, as evidenced by the transition budget for July-December 2002. Further efforts are needed in the period ahead, in particular to strengthen non-oil revenue-including through streamlining the valued-added tax and by a reduction in tax exemptions-and to contain spending on the wage bill, transfers, and non-priority areas. In this connection, Directors expressed concern about the delays in implementing HIPC-related programs and projects in the context of their public expenditure program. They welcomed the authorities' decision to give priority to the implementation of these projects-especially in the areas of health, education, and basic infrastructure. Directors also encouraged the authorities to pursue efforts to strengthen public expenditure management, and urged them to enhance coordination efforts among key ministries so as to ensure timely decision making.

Some Directors took note of the pick up in consumer prices in recent months. They considered that future price developments should be monitored carefully to ensure the preservation of Cameroon's competitiveness. In the financial sector, Directors welcomed the authorities' efforts to implement the recommendations of the recent Financial Sector Assessment Program review, and saw as the main priorities in this area the strengthening of COBAC's capacity to conduct bank supervision consistent with international norms-with the support of the regional central bank-and the restructuring of the Postal Savings Bank.

Directors encouraged the intensification of efforts to pick up the pace of structural reforms, with emphasis on the privatization program and the reforms of the forestry, transport, and petroleum sectors. In addition, they welcomed the authorities' efforts to address the weaknesses in governance, improve transparency, and fight corruption, in part, by proceeding with the reform of the judiciary system in a timely fashion. Directors stressed the importance of implementing concrete actions to resolve the problems associated with the abuse of the saisie-attribution procedure, which could potentially undermine the soundness of the commercial banking system.

Directors commended the authorities' commitment to regional integration and Cameroon's macroeconomic policy convergence within the CEMAC. They encouraged the authorities to support more actively regional initiatives in the areas of trade, customs liberalization, and banking supervision. Some Directors urged the Cameroonian authorities to take steps to participate in the United Nations' anti-money laundering initiative.

Directors urged the authorities to continue to improve the provision of data for surveillance and program implementation and monitoring. They welcomed the completion of the household consumption survey, the results of which would help improve the quality of social indicators. They also took note of the authorities' intention to continue to improve data quality, coverage, and timeliness in the context of the General Data Dissemination System.

It is expected that the next Article IV consultation with Cameroon will be held on the 24-month cycle, subject to the provisions of the decision on consultation cycles approved on July 15, 2002.

Cameroon: Selected Economic Indicators, 1996/97-2001/02 1/






2000/01 2/

2001/02 3/


In percent

Domestic economy


Change in real GDP







Change in consumer prices (end of period)







Change in the terms of trade








In millions of U.S. dollars 4/

External economy


Exports, f.o.b







Imports, f.o.b







Current account balance 5/







Direct investment







Portfolio investment







Capital account balance







Current account balance







(percent of GDP) 5/


Change in real effective exchange rate (in percent) 6/








In percent of GDP 4/

Financial variables


Gross national savings







Gross domestic investment







Central government budget balance 7/







Primary budget balance







Change in broad money (in percent)







Interest rate (in percent) 8/







Total External Public Debt







Actual External Public Debt Service 9/







1/ Fiscal years begin in July.

2/ Data provided by the Cameroonian authorities and IMF staff estimates.

3/ Preliminary IMF estimates.

4/ Unless otherwise indicated.

5/ Including grants.

6/ (+) = appreciation.

7/ Including grants.

8/ Bank of Central African States (BEAC) discount rate (end of period).

9/ In percent of exports of goods and nonfactor services.

1 Under Article IV of the IMF's Articles of Agreement, the IMF holds bilateral discussions with members, expected to be held every other year. A staff team visits the country, collects economic and financial information, and discusses with officials the country's economic developments and policies. On return to headquarters, the staff prepares a report, which forms the basis for discussion by the Executive Board. At the conclusion of the discussion, the Managing Director, as Chairman of the Board, summarizes the views of Executive Directors, and this summary is transmitted to the country's authorities. In this PIN, the main features of the Board's discussion are described. Cameroon is a member of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) and the CFA franc zone.


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