Yaoundé (National Times)-The Confederation of African Football (CAF)’s decision of November 30 terminating Cameroon’s dream of hosting the 2019African Cup of Nations has rocked the State machinery and could affect the implementation of the nation’s budget for the year in view.
Before the CAF decision came, many Ministers playing key roles towards the successful hosting of the tournament had defended their plan before the Budget and Finance Committee of the National Assembly.
The Prime Minister and Head of Government, Philemon Yang, had appeared before Parliament to defend Government’s 2019 plan of action.
All these were full of declarations and determinations towards ensuring the successful hosting of the continental show piece.
Now that Cameroon will no longer host the tournament, it is but normal that the budget and priority projects for certain Ministerial Departments be reviewed.
The nation is watching to see the directives which the Head of State, President Paul Biya will give in this light.
It is unclear if the President will ask the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Senate President to convene an extra-ordinary session of Parliament to adjust the 2019 budget or such adjustments will be left to be made by decree. At the time CAF made public its decision, the finance bill for 2019 had already sailed through the National Assembly and was at the level of the Senate.
The first Ministry whose budget needs adjustment is that of Sports and Physical Education. The Minister concerned, Ismael Bidoung MKPatt, had on November 24 defended a budget of FCFA 57.7billion before the Budget and Finance Committee of the National Assembly.
A chunk of this money was to be invested for the 2019 AFCON projects. Of this budget, just FCFA 19 billion was to be used for recurrent expenditure, while the remaining FCFA 37.5 billion was mostly for AFCON projects.
Minister Bidoung had told reporters shortly after defending that budget that, the priority was for the 2019 AFCON. This, he said, was to go for infrastructure and other issues related to the tournament.
Next is the Ministry of Tourism that already defended FCFA 9.94 billion. In his defence before the same committee of the National Assembly on November 22, Tourism and Leisure Minister, Bello Bouba Maigari, said emphasis was on meeting up with international standards to satisfy tourists that will come during the 2019 AFCON that will no longer take place. Bello Bouba told journalists then that “our priorities remain the same that is to be ready with projects and hotels that are up to internationally acceptable standards in 2019 AFCON”.
The Ministry of Communication too already defended a budget of FCFA 9 billion with emphasis of meeting up with the demands of the withdrawn AFCON competition.
Minister Tchiroma had defended the country’s resolve to enable the State broadcaster (CRTV) be the first host country to generate images for the entire continent.
At the level of the Ministry of Transport, its 2019 budget witnessed a 42 per cent increase corresponding to FCFA 8 billion essentially focused on making AFCON 2019 a success. It had defended a budget of FCFA13.319 billion. The Minister of Transport, Jean Ernest Ngalle, had talked of plans to modernise the road infrastructure for the AFCON 2019 showpiece.
Minister Jean Claude Mbwnehctou of Housing and Urban Development on November 26 defended a budget of over FCFA 143 billion.
It witnessed an increase of over FCFA 50 billion because of the programmed AFCON 2019 projects. The Minister then talked of the task to realise hospital roads and other access roads related to AFCON 2019.
The Ministry of Public Health has a budget of over FCFA 200 billion. Part of the reason for the increase in the budget was linked to the upgrading of health facilities ahead of the 2019 AFCON that will no longer take place.
There are many others such as that of Post and Telecommunication whose budgets witnessed increases partly in anticipation for the now cancelled continental showpiece. Now that Cameroon will no longer host, it is but normal to readjust such budgets to avoid a disruption in the State budget.