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Cameroon 

By Divine Ntaryike Jr

CameroonPostline.com — Economists are warning that Cameroon’s currently soaring inflation rate could result in protests over swelling living costs in the no-distant future.  After witnessing slumps following deadly riots against unbearable price hikes in 2008, observers are noting a steady general and progressive increase in prices nationwide.

When excruciating living costs triggered hostilities in 2008, the inflation rate was at 5.3 percent.  A year later in 2009, it dropped to 3 percent and again to 1.3 percent in 2010.  According to observers, the steady slump was the outcome of various government strategies to keep down prices of especially basic commodities.

The measures included cuts in customs duties on imports, increased fuel subsidies, crackdowns on speculators, strict price controls and imposed slashed rates for products like rice, fish and maize.  For some time, prices stayed down, though many continued to complain essential goods were beyond their reach.

Fresh estimates from the International Monetary Fund indicate that the country’s inflation rate is gradually on the rise once again.  According to economists, it soared to 2.9 percent last year, staying just below Central Africa’s tolerated rate of 3 percent.

 But observers are warning the upward trend may persist if urgent action is ignored.  The Littoral regional delegate for trade, David Tsegui told CameroonPostLine.com that the government is quite aware of the situation and has prescribed a series of measures aimed at pinning down prices.

“Consumers must stop being passive actors.  They are the first gendarmes in the fight against unscrupulous business people who unilaterally raise prices on our markets.  If all consumers who feel cheated reported cases through a simple SMS or phone call, we will immediately activate our repressive machine and bring any situations under control,” he said.

According to him, the government is fitting trade delegations across the country with rapid intervention teams to crackdown on speculators. “The Ministry of Trade has created control brigades in all districts to curb fraud and so henceforth, we will be very close to the consumers and the business people too and all we need are prompt tipoffs and you’ll see the results,” he added.

Tsegui said Cameroon remains one of the best-endowed primary commodity economies in sub-Saharan Africa. According to him, stagnant per capita income, inequitable distribution of income, endemic corruption, and a generally unfavorable climate for business and wealth creation are responsible for the rising inflation rates.
 

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