(Business in Cameroon) – During its 16th ordinary session, held in Douala last April 14, 2022, the Steering Committee of the CEMAC Economic and Financial Reform Program (Pref-Cemac) urged member states and public enterprises of the community to repatriate public funds held abroad. This measure, the committee said, will contribute to the reconstitution of forex reserves and support the financing of national economies.
The issue was discussed at a meeting in December 2021. But there seems to be little appetite from the government and businesses to comply. In a report published in 2020, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expressed concern about the volume of funds held abroad by CEMAC countries and their nationals. “There is also evidence of very large deposits by CEMAC residents in foreign countries, which are likely not in total compliance with CEMAC foreign exchange regulation. Such regulation requires that holdings by CEMAC residents in foreign banks are kept only in limited amounts and for justifiable reasons, such as to finance anticipated imports or to cover short-term debt service,” the Bretton Woods institution noted.
Given the weight of oil revenues in the income of many CEMAC countries, with five out of six of them being oil producers, part of such holdings may be related to unrecorded oil export earnings proceeds, the IMF said.
As a reminder, according to data provided by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the volume of overall assets of Cemac residents in foreign banks at the end of 2017 is estimated at $5 billion (nearly CFA2.9 trillion). This volume of funds is almost double the public investment budget (PIB) of the State of Cameroon for 2022.
Brice R. Mbodiam