The Minister of Finance, Essimi Menye, has disclosed that his ministry was under th grip of a gang of racketeers who have been defrauding the state of billions of francs yearly. He notified the fraudsters that their network has been uncovered and investigations by the Supreme State Control were going on.
The minister was speaking at the close of this year's annual conference of the central and external services of his ministry that held from 19-21 January in Yaounde.
Essimi Menye expressed disappointment that while the state was wrestling with limited resources to bail the country out of its economic woes, some group of individuals were impeding these efforts by reaping where they did not sow.
According to the minister, some officials in the Ministry of Finance have been awarding undue benefits to some civil servants and state agents against some compensation.
He said investigations have shown that many state workers from the police, army, civil servants, and state agents receive undeserved allowances and other benefits as much as twice or thrice their salaries with the complicity of workers in the Ministry of Finance who in turn get compensated.
"Let me alert all those involved in this fraud that they will be hunted by "Operation Epervier". By the time we go through the investigation, I am sure the Kondengui prison will be too small to contain all the criminals", the minister warned.
He also said that those civil servants who received undue benefits over the years will have to pay back because the records are there to show.
"We have to deduct all what they received from their salaries till the stolen money is recovered because we need enough money now to meet up with vast investment programmes announced by the Head of State", he added.
He reminded his collaborators that 2010 has been described as the year of economic recovery beginning with heavy investment projects in infrastructure, notably construction works in the Lom Pangar and Memve'ele dams, the Kribi deepwater port and gas-fired plant, the Mekin mini-power plant on the Dja, the rehabilitation and extension of water supply in Yaounde, Douala and several other towns and areas, the modernisation of road networks of most cities etc.
In order to effectively secure funding for this ambitious recovery programme, the state should mainly through the public treasury, be able to mobilise the necessary domestic and foreign resources in time and at the lowest possible cost. It is against this backdrop that the minister called on treasury administrators to strive towards optimising the management of state's cash.
Embargo to imported flowers
The Minister of Finance, Essimi Menye, was at odds with the use of imported flowers in official ceremonies. He said it was the last time he would tolerate or accept the use of imported plastic flowers in official ceremonies.
"We are all yearning for the growth of our economy but are not making individual efforts to contribute towards the much needed growth. If we learn to consume locally made products like flowers then we shall be promoting employment and curbing other social ills," he emphasised.
The three-day conference ended with the presentation of New Year wishes to the minister and the Minister Delegate in charge of Budget, Titi Pierre.