The creation of the Ministry of Decentralisation and Local Development by President Paul Biya on March 2, 2018 signalled the determination to accelerate the process as he stated in his end-of-year address to the nation on December 31, 2017.
The second phase transfer of competences and resources to local councils to stimulate local development is imminent in the country. This is in strict implementation of the directives of the Head of State during his New Year message to Cameroonians on December 31, 2017. To this effect, the first ordinary session of the Local Services Inter-ministerial Committee for 2018 has taken place in Yaounde under the chairmanship of the Minister of Decentralisation and Local Development, Georges Elanga Obam.
The session was consecrated on the second phase of the transfer of competences and resources to local councils and effective putting in place of Regions. This falls in line with the mission assigned the new ministry of Decentralisation and Local Development, which is to accelerate the process so as to allow effective participation of the grassroots population in their development.
According to Minister Elanga Obam, the committee met to assess the level of advancement of the process, how the transfer of powers and resources by the central government to the local councils was being managed, the difficulties encountered, the adequacy of financing and how local government structures was able to address the issues of decentralisation.
The committee he said, targeted the envisaged second phase of the transfer of powers. It sought to identify the powers and ensure adequate tools are given to councils to effectively meet the objectives of decentralisation. As concerns the putting in place of the Regions, the committee is already figuring out the types of powers to be transferred to the Regions, the level of resources and the regions will be organised. The committee’s suggestions will be forwarded to the Head of State as he requested in his end-of-year address that proposals be made a forwarded to him for immediate action.
A close examination of the decentralisation process, according to Minister Elanga Obam, shows some key advancements though hampered by loopholes and shortcomings such as low level of financial, budgetary and human resource put at the disposal of local councils. Other hitches include the procedures for award of public contracts, lack of collaboration between competent government technical services and decentralised entities amongst others. These challenges will be surmounted as more powers and resources will be made available to local councils and the Regions to fast-track the decentralisation process as prescribed by the Head of State.
It should be noted that the implementation of the decentralisation process went operation in 2010 with the transformation of Provinces to Regions. President Paul Biya opted for decentralisation in pursuant to Constitutional provision which states that “Cameroon is a decentralised Unitary State.” It is also intended to accelerate the development of the country from the grassroots.