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Gov’t Launches Massive Hunt For Ghost Workers 

Orders Census Of Civil Servants

By Nformi Sonde Kinsai

The Government has again launched the physical head count of active workers who are currently on the State payroll.
The exercise to be conducted by special teams drawn from the Ministries of Finance, MINFI; and that of the Public Service and Administrative Reform, MINFOPRA; across banks, microfinance institutions and public treasury of the country, will span from April to June, 2018.

Although Government has been carrying out a series of censuses of State personnel, the physical head count will be the most extensive after that of 2006.
According to a press release dated April 9, 2018, and endorsed by the Minister of Finance, Louis Paul Motazé, the exercise is geared at identifying and expunging from the State payroll, all Government workers who are earning salaries unduly because of unjustified absences; resignations or undeclared deaths.
Insisting that the physical head count is essentially for employees on the State’s payroll and who show proof of effective presence at their places of work, the Minister reiterated the mandatory nature of the operation. He stated that every Government employee concerned is expected to submit a set of requirements, failure which they will outright be suspended from the State payroll.

Such requirements include: a passport size photograph, a photocopy of the national identity card, a photocopy of the recruitment decision, a photocopy of the last advancement, an attestation of effective service and an appointment decision in case the worker occupies a post of responsibility. The documents will be submitted along a filled form to be provided by the personnel deployed on the field to conduct the exercise against a receipt justifying that the said worker has effectively taken part in the operation.

Meanwhile, in an interview granted Government daily, Cameroon Tribune of April 17, 2018, the Director General of the Budget in MINFI, Cyrille Edou Alo’o, said the operation will enable the Government to have updated data of those effectively working as well as to meet up with the exigencies of development partners which requires cleaning up public expenditure and consolidating the budget.
On the evolution of the pay package destined to State personnel, Edou said the amount was about FCFA 393 billion in 2006 and the figure had risen to FCFA 945 billion within the framework of the 2017 budget. He said the total number of workers on the State payroll in 2006 was 163,000 and, today, it stands at 322,000. He attributed the increase to recruitment into the various government structures from 2006 till date.

“We, however, have to deeply look into this figure considering that we also have this phenomenon of brain drain. The President [of the Republic] mentioned this in his address to the youth in 2016 and there are also other [State] agents who have been recruited and are now working somewhere else. The physical head count across pay counters will enable us to verify that those receiving salaries are effectively alive and are working,” he stated. He added that the operation would not only entail physical head count, but a control will also be done on arrears received, among others.
He disclosed that the data collected would be analysed between the months of June and September, a period during which the first contingent of the workers who would have failed to take part in the exercise, would be suspended from the payroll.

“On how different the operation will be from the previous ones, Edou talked of innovations this year which include the strict control of the frontiers (land and airport entries) to tract down fraudsters who had developed the habit of rushing into the country to get themselves counted during censuses. He also mentioned the possibility given to Cameroonians to denounce such persons by calling or sending sms to 242 94 24 13 or 663 17 01 04. It is also possible to denounce by sending an email to the address: denonciation.coppe2018@minfi.cm.
Challenges:

For the operation to register the desired results, the personnel to be deployed on the field must be uncompromising and demonstrate exemplary behaviour of impartiality. Past operations to weed out ghost workers from the State payroll have, so far, yielded results far below expectations because some officials in the administrative chain are accomplices of State workers who abandoned their duties to seek greener pastures abroad.

Some teachers who abandoned their jobs but are still earning their salaries as well as enjoying career advancements are often cited in this category. They are known to be enjoying the protection of some principals against the exchange of brown envelops. Some top official in the central administration have been accused of having several service numbers through which state funds are siphoned. They are also known to be acting in complicity with the ghost workers, protecting them in exchange of kickbacks. These are some of the daunting challenges that government must surmount to effectively clean the system.

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