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General News of Friday, 12 December 2014

Source: Standard Tribune

Biya kills criticisms with FCFA 900bn plan

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Cameroon’s growth during 2015 will stay under 6% according to the forecast contained in next year’s budget, bellow the 7% minimum needed for households to feel the impact of the country’s economic performance.

“The emergency plan is a special program of measures and projects targeting the immediate needs of the population,” the president said, addressing ministers in French on Tuesday.

It involves investing CFA925 billion to build roads, hospitals, houses, water wells and boost agriculture throughout the country, without pausing the longer term growth and employment strategy in place since 2010.

A day after the announcement, Biya authorized the minister of finance to borrow money from several national and international banks that have already agreed to partner with the government in the initiative.

The decision to roll out an emergency plan was quite unexpected, coming within a week after the parliament voted the 2015 budget. The emergency plan will be funded outside next year’s budget.

Biya summoned the entire government to the Unity Palace to make the announcement.

It has become the story of the week, completely eclipsing mounting criticisms against the president after the parliament passed a law that critics say can be used to suppress descent in the name of fighting terrorism.

Biya is expected to promulgate the act of parliament before the law becomes operational.

“This plan was well-timed to refocus national attention from the anti-terrorism bill, which appeared to trample on the basic rights of the population,” said our political analyst.

The proposed law classifies popular revolt as a terrorist activity punishable by the death sentence.

“By making this announcement now, the president has given people something else, something good, to feed on while this law becomes reality,” our analyst said.

Biya habitually kills public criticisms by swiftly chaining up controversial policies with decisions that are likely to be popular.

In 2008, after 100 people died in riots over the government’s decision to increase fuel prices, Biya quickly announced several charm measures, including the direct recruitment of 25,000 job seekers into the public service.

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