Yaoundé: IMF Reaches Staff-Level Agreement with Cameroon on the First Review of Resilience 0

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team, led by Ms. Cemile Sancak, Mission Chief for Cameroon, visited Yaoundé during April 25-May 8 and held virtual meetings during May 9-31 to discuss progress on reforms and the authorities’ policy priorities in the context of the sixth reviews of the four-year program supported by the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) and the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangements, and the first review of the Resilience and Sustainability Facility (RSF). The ECF/EFF arrangements were approved by the IMF Executive Board for a total amount of SDR 483 million (US$ 689.5 million) in July 2021 (see press release 21/237). An extension of these arrangements of 12 months was approved in December 2023 to allow more time to implement the policies and reforms, and access was augmented by SDR 110.4 million (US$ 147.6 million, see press release 23/469). The 18-month RSF was approved by the Executive Board in January 2024 in the amount of SDR 138 million (US$ 183.4 million, see press release 24/30).

At the conclusion of the discussions, Ms. Sancak issued the following statement:

“The IMF and the Cameroonian authorities have reached staff-level agreement on the sixth reviews of the ECF/EFF arrangements, and the first review of the RSF arrangement. The agreement is subject to approval by the IMF Executive Board, with Board consideration expected in late June. Completion of the reviews would enable disbursement under the ECF/EFF arrangements of SDR 55.2 million (US$ 73.0 million), and disbursement under the RSF arrangement of SDR 34.5 million (US$ 45.6 million).

“Preliminary data indicate that Cameroon’s post-COVID-19 recovery continued last year, with overall growth of 3.3 percent. This is lower than the 3.6 percent realized in 2022 and the previous growth forecast of 4 percent in 2023 due to a combination of external and internal factors, including supply chain and energy disruptions and a contraction in domestic oil production. Inflation subsided from 7.3 percent at the end 2022 to 5.9 percent at end 2023.

“Headline fiscal developments were broadly in line with program objectives. The non-oil primary deficit improved to 2.6 percent of GDP in 2023 (from 3.9 percent in 2022). The consolidation effort was supported by a strong non-oil revenue and the government’s efforts to reduce costly fuel subsidies. However, effective public financial management remains a persistent challenge, with substantial extra-budgetary expenditure in 2023. This translated in overruns on current spending, and the non-oil primary deficit target under the program was missed by a small margin. The current spending overrun also constrained resources for priority, pro-growth investment, underlining the need to redouble efforts to strengthen budget integrity and execution. The authorities intend to introduce a revised 2024 budget to limit expenditures executed through treasury advances and adopt a plan to clear domestic arrears, among others. There was a minor breach of the ceiling on the accumulation of new external payment arrears. 

“Prospects remain favorable provided continued reform and a supportive external environment. Economic growth is now expected to increase to around 4 percent in 2024. The decline in inflation will be gradual given the impact of the second pump price increase early in 2024, and it will reach 5.5 percent by year end. The authorities are preparing a revised budget for 2024 and have expressed their continued commitment to maintaining macroeconomic stability and to further reducing the non-oil primary fiscal deficit to 2 percent of GDP in 2024.

“The authorities are making good progress on their structural reform agenda. Meeting the ambitious objectives of the national development strategy for 2020-30 (SND30) will require stepping up these efforts, especially those that would create fiscal space for infrastructure investment while maintaining debt sustainability. Reforms to support a deep structural transformation of the economy also need to be accelerated, including to improve the business climate for the private sector. The mission encouraged the authorities’ efforts to strengthen the performance and financial management of public enterprises, complete technical studies related to the restructuring of SONARA, and strengthen the anti-corruption framework.

“The authorities recognize the need to strengthen Cameroon’s resilience to climate change. Under the RSF, the government has intensified its efforts to improve the climate policy framework. Work is well advanced on the initial reform measures that entail adoption of an order establishing the institutional framework for the coordination of the climate agenda, and publication of a project selection procedure manual that integrates criteria relating to climate change. Work is ongoing on a series of important reform measures, including a national climate plan, a national strategy for disaster risk financing, climate-related public investment management, and in the governance and sustainability of the forestry sector.

“The IMF team met with the Prime Minister, Joseph Dion Ngute, the Minister and Secretary General of the Presidency, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, the Minister of Finance, Louis Paul Motaze, the National Director of the BEAC, Emmanuel Nkoa Ayissi, and other senior officials. The mission also met with representatives of development partners, the diplomatic community, the private sector, and civil society. The team wishes to thank the Cameroonian authorities for their excellent cooperation.”

Reported by the IMF Communications Department