Economist, Etienne Ekaicheck Anjeh, has averred that Cameroon Government’s decision to increase civil servants’ salaries by 5.2% was just a move to mask the increase in the prices of basic commodities and to avoid nationwide protests by Cameroonians.
The purported increase in salaries fails to help Cameroonians when an index analysis is made with regards to price increase, and the new fuel prices will lead to a transfer of burden to the population.
Ekaicheck Anjeh spoke to The POST following a release signed by the Secretary General at the Prime Minister’s Office, Seraphin Magloire Fouda, on January 31, 2023, stating a rise in the prices of fuel: petrol from FCFA 630 to FCFA 730; diesel from FCFA 545 to FCFA 720. A litre of kerosene was maintained at FCFA 350 while domestic gas was maintained at 6,500. The minimum wage was moved from FCFA 36,270 to FCFA 41,875 and a 5.2 percent increase in remuneration of Government workers.
Anjeh holds that an increase in fuel prices directly affects other sectors of the economy and citizens because it serves as a determining factor for the displacement of commodities.
“Fuel is used in transportation and we know that the cost of production is often influenced by transport and so increasing the price of fuel is indirectly increasing the price of every commodity that is being transported, that has to be transported, and that is going to add a very huge burden on the citizens.”
He explained that a majority of what has been given by the Government to Cameroonians, through the increase in salaries, has already been taken away and even more, by the increase in prices.
The economist furthers that, though a 5.2 percent increase in salaries may be a relieving factor in an economy because it could cater for part of the worker’s bills, it comes at a moment when Cameroon is plunged in price hikes. “
“The problem is the timing, to me, personally, the timing is wrong because the increase in salaries is coming at a time when there’s an increase in the prices of basic commodities and, as a personal opinion, I think the Government is using the increase in salaries as a means to cover up the reaction that will come up from the increase in the price os basic commodities,” he stated.
Anjeh says, without the price hike, Government’s proposition for an increase in minimum wage would have been laudable for it is a response to Cameroonians request since 2010 for a basic salary that maintains the living standard.
According to the President of the General Union of Cameroon Workers, Isaac Bissala, this adjustment is not favourable. ‘
“A tripartite meeting will be held on February 8, 2023, at the Ministry of Finance. Each party will try to come with its proposals and put on the table. The Government will come with FCFA 41,875, employers and workers will come with what we decided on at the last tripartite meeting. We stopped between FCFA 60,000 and FCFA 80,000. So, there will be a consensus. It is after this consensus that you will know that the minimum wage has been put in Cameroon at such an amount,” Eco Matin reports.
The last increase in minimum wage rates in Cameroon was in 2014 where the payment moved from 28,000 FCFA to 36,270 FCFA, an increase of FCFA 8,270, after consultations between the organisations of employers and workers.
In the CEMAC region, Cameroon features at the bottom of the list in the payment of minimum wage and by-passes solely the Central Africa Republic whose amount stands at FCFA 36,000 as against FCFA 36,270 in Cameroon. Topping the list is Equatorial Guinea with FCFA 128,000, while the minimum wage in the Republic of Congo is FCFA 90,000, Gabon FCFA 80,000 and Chad FCFA to 60,000.
Other African countries out of the CEMAC zone, on January 2023, considerably increased their minimum wage with Ivory Coast moving from FCFA 60,000 to FCFA 75,000 and Togo from FCFA 35,000 to FCFA 52,500.
By Synthia Lateu