IMF: Make Credit to Cameroon Anti-Corruption Dependent

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(Nairobi) – The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to ensure the receipt of the three-year loan requested Cameroon Human Rights Watch said today that it is being used to fulfill its human rights obligations and does not lose to corruption. It should require the government to make its spending fully transparent, conduct a comprehensive independent audit of its Covid-19 spending to date, and hold anyone responsible for corruption accountable.

“The IMF Board has been voting on its third loan to Cameroon since the start of the pandemic in the midst of the Covid-19 corruption scandal and the brutal crisis that shook the country’s English-speaking regions and had a devastating impact on people’s right to health. “said Sara Saadounis a senior business and human rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “When badly needed aid is squandered or stolen, it would be irresponsible for the IMF to approve another loan without guarantees that the money will go where it was intended.”

May 27, 2021 IMF announced that an agreement was reached with staff on a loan, among other things, “to mitigate the impact of the pandemic”. The IMF did not elaborate on the number or details of any specific anti-corruption measures, except that “effective implementation of the anti-corruption legal framework will also be critical.”

The IMF previously paid two emergency loans totaling $ 382 million for Cameroon in response to the pandemic. Although the government did specific commitments IMF to use these funds transparently and accountable, its Covid-19 spending has been clouded by secrecy and credibility accusations widespread mismanagement and corruption.

19 May Cameroonian media published a summary of the inspection carried out by the investigating body of the Supreme Court, Chambres des Comptes… The audit detailed the results of large-scale corruption and mismanagement involving 180 billion CFA francs ($ 333 million) spent on the fight against Covid-19 until December 31, 2020. He recommended that “10 court cases be initiated in relation to findings that are likely to violate criminal law”.

Citing the findings, as well as major corruption scandals, including the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) scandal that took place during the last IMF loan program and for which no one was prosecuted, 20 prominent Cameroonian women called on The IMF board will not approve any additional funding until the government has heeded previous IMF loans and held accountable for those involved in corruption.

Audit found “Numerous abuses” in the use of funds. For example, it emerged that one company, Mediline Medical Cameroon, received a “quasi-monopoly” on government contracts for personal protective equipment (PPE), tests for Covid-19 and other medical supplies, despite not being active in the country. before the pandemic.

Local media reports called it a subsidiary of South Korean Mediline Medical Korea, but the company told Human Rights Watch that it “does not have a subsidiary or investment companies in the country or abroad.” The June 1 Mediline Medical Cameroon press release in response to the audit report was signed by Sangki Yi as chairman of the board. Human Rights Watch was unable to locate contact information about him or his company. In a Cameroonian government document, Sunguk Yun is named the sole beneficial or beneficial owner of the company. Human Rights Watch posted it on LinkedIn, the only contact information we could find, but there was no response.

Audit found that Mediline Medical Cameroon overpriced its products, supplied defective or incorrect materials, and that its orders lacked documentation to track and confirm delivery. The authorities were unable to account for the products they apparently received, including 610,000 tests for Covid-19. The audit also showed that the government purchased 16 ambulances from Mediline Medical Cameroon and another company for 880 million CFA francs ($ 1.6 million), but none had been delivered by December 31.

Human Rights Watch said with medical and administrative staff in hospitals throughout the country, including in two English-speaking regions where violence is serious disrupted access to health carewho stated that during the period covered by the audit, they received little or no additional funds or equipment to help them respond to the virus.

One doctor said his hospital initially received only 12 masks, 20 boxes of gloves, and four full gowns for nearly 50 employees, and that a nurse from a nearby hospital died of Covid-19 in June 2020. 10 health facilities in his area received a total of 10 million FCA (about US $ 17,000), which enabled his hospital to purchase PPE. However, when Human Rights Watch said Together with him, he said in September that the hospital still lacks protective equipment for most of its staff and that there is no ambulance.

Mediline Medical Cameroon June 1st Statement fired these accusations are part of a “disinformation campaign”. It says that as of January, the company has conducted 1.9 million of the 3 million tests purchased by the government, for which it was paid CFA francs 24.5 billion (US $ 45 million), and its debt is still 8. 5 billion CFA francs (US $ 15 million).

It said prices were “in line with the rules,” although the amounts quoted effectively support the audit findings that the government paid CFAF 17,500 (US $ 32) for the test, significantly more than the alternatives. He also said he was still processing what he said was the purchase of 17 ambulances for 8.5 billion CFA francs (about $ 15 million), citing concerns over the pandemic.

The audit revealed that the government had requisitioned 32 hotels for 1,028 people who needed quarantine, but failed to pay about 200 million CFA francs ($ 370,000) in costs incurred by the hotels, exacerbating their financial situation due to the pandemic.

Human Rights Watch said with several people who worked at these hotels from November to December who said their salaries were cut in part because the government did not pay these bills in full. An event manager at a hotel in Douala said she had to ask her brother if her two children could stay with him because her salary had been cut and she could no longer afford to provide for them. In February, Human Rights Watch contacted the Ministry of Health about the matter, but received no response.

These irregularities could have been identified and remedied if the government had maintained its commitment to the IMF to publish spending information in a timely manner. However, the IMF is still approved a second emergency loan in October, and now appears poised to approve a third, larger program without addressing this fundamental lack of transparency, despite serious allegations of mismanagement and corruption.

The IMF has demanded that the government publish some information about the contracts it has entered into, including the names of all the beneficial owners of the companies, prior to the issuance of the second loan. However, this information is not available on any government website, has not been updated since this loan was approved, and the quality of the information is poor. For example, in this document, Sunguk Yoon is listed as the beneficial owner of Mediline Medical Cameroon, although media reports call him the project coordinator.

Cameroon’s authorities have yet to order or publish an independent audit of Covid-19 spending, despite the IMF’s pledge to do so by December 31 of the fiscal year. February media reported that the Treasury Department had announced tenders for an independent audit, and the IMF told Human Rights Watch in March that the government had provided its staff with terms of reference for an independent audit, but it is unclear whether the firm was hired.

IN Chambre des comptes The audit is important, although it examines the spending of only two out of 10 ministries that received funds for Covid-19, and the government does not disclose its findings, which journalists posted on social media. This is not a substitute for full-fledged independent auditing.

From March 29 to April 8, President’s General Secretary Ferdinand Ngo Ngoh, sent a series of letters on behalf of President Paul Biya to various ministries to investigate and restructure Covid-19 spending. Obviously, this was due to pressure caused by the government’s negotiations on a loan with the IMF. One letter instructed the Ministry of Justice to initiate proceedings against the persons indicated in Chambre des comptesaudit. Separate May 28 statement referred to the audit and said that the judicial investigation was ongoing in a special criminal tribunal.

While investigations are helpful, recent events hint at serious difficulties in bringing corrupt Cameroonian officials to justice. Between June 7-9, several government agencies, including the Internal Revenue Administration and the National Business Association, were robbed despite being housed in heavily guarded buildings. media reportsciting a confidential source, said “tons of documents” had been stolen, possibly complicating the Justice Department’s investigation. On June 15, police announced the arrest of a man in connection with infiltrating the tax office and released video footage of a suspect who claimed to have acted alone.

“The IMF’s focus on corruption has prompted Cameroonian officials to take small steps to ensure transparency and accountability,” Saadoun said. “But, faced with evidence of widespread mismanagement and corruption, these efforts are not enough, and the IMF must push for much more.”

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