By Bouddih Adams
Before I get rough, let me state that Government efforts to hold down the prices of basic commodities, which are rising due to the increase in the price of fuel, are dead on arrival.
Despite the fact that precious time and money has been spent by the Minister of Trade travelling to all regions to beg traders not to increase the prices of their food stuff and basic commodities, the prices are rising. In spite of the pabulum by the Minister of Communication on the Government decision to increase the prices of fuel, without rhyme or reason; prices have gone up and are still going up.
And the traders have a justification for that. How do Government’s economic advisers think that a woman who, before the increase in the price of fuel and the resultant increase in taxi fare, paid FCFA 150 to sell salt in the market, but now has to pay FCFA 250, would maintain the price of salt per cup? How do Government economists think that a woman, who used to pay FCFA 100 to sell garri in the market, would now pay FCFA 150 and still sell a cup of garri at the same FCFA 75?
By removing the so-called subvention on fuel prices or, better still, by increasing the price of petrol and expecting the prices of other commodities not to increase; is akin to Government attempting to stand logic on its head.
It is basic commonsense that the world moves on fuel. Knowledge that goods and services move on fuel to the final consumer, is elementary economics. So, if the price of fuel increases, the price of every other thing would increase.
Even bride prices have to increase because the families would need to pay more for their daughter’s education; feeding, clothing, transport fare, educational and other materials whose prices are increasing as a consequence of the increase in the price of fuel. Of course, in societies where a fair-in-complexion girl is priced very high, the bride price will go higher. And for those societies that pay but a groom price, groom prices will have to increase also.
The babble that Government has increased salaries of civil servants by five percent to cushion the gust of the increase in the price of fuel is just what it is; sheer gabble!
Primo: if we consider the principle in Physics that: to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction; how can the regime increase the price of fuel by 15 or more percent and then increase salaries by only five percent and expect to strike a balance?
Secundo: all the civil servants, put together, are 200,000; representing only two percent of the population of the Cameroons. An increase in salaries by five percent for only two percent of the population has a minimal or near insignificant multiplier effect.
On the whole, poor Cameroonian masses will pay the very high prices which Government will take through taxes to feed its top civil servants with, by way of giving them free cars, free fuel and other fringe benefits.
I have read and listened to lame arguments that fuel is cheaper in Cameroon than in some countries in the sub region. That argument ought to stand in within the economic concept of “other things being equal,” but it doesn’t. For instance: Do the countries have petroleum deposits and in what quantity are they exploiting it? What is the level of transparency of management of funds from petroleum and their level of corruption in general? What is the minimum wage in these other countries? Were salaries slashed by 70 percent like in Cameroon in 1993-94? Were the salaries reinstated to the status quo ante? And so on and so forth.
So, the peasant farmers who form the bulk of the Cameroonian society are the final victims as they would have to bear the burden of the Government decision. Thus, the regime will continue to fleece the Cameroonian masses to feed-fat its civil servants that sustain its perpetuity over the common man, till eternity.
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