By Daniel Gwarbarah| Monday, 26 April 2010| The Post|
The World Bank, Cameroon Office, will from next July 1, begin publishing information hitherto considered a taboo by some top state officials, The Post has learnt.
This revelation was made April 19 by Mrs. Helene Pieume of the World Bank Documentation Centre in Yaounde and Raju Singh, the Bank’s Lead Economist for Central Africa. They were responding to questions after a video conference. The video conference which held ahead of the Bank’s spring meeting billed for Washington D.C. from April 22 to 25 was presented and coordinated from Washington with journalists from some 30 African countries participating.
Mrs. Pieume revealed that from July 1, all government information at their disposal relating to public investment projects will be published on the Bank’s website. Mrs. Pieume said Cameroon’s Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Louis Paul Motazé, has given them the green light to publish such information. She said government officials are now of the opinion that such information is made available to the Cameroonian public and the international community.
On his part, Raju Singh said a recent study by the Bank has revealed that efforts between the two censuses to reduce poverty have yielded very little. He observed that priorities outlined in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, PRSP, are not sufficiently reflected in the state budget while declarations by state officials don’t match field actions. He, however, noted that some improvements have been witnessed of late in the execution of public investment projects.
The Video Conference
One of the panelists, Shantayanan Devarajan, the Bank’s Chief Economist for the African Region, in his presentation, noted that social and economic policies of African countries are geared at achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, by 2015.
He said before the financial crisis of last year, many African countries were witnessing a rapid economic growth with some registering as high as 4.5 percent. Maintaining that Africa probably suffered the least from the crisis because it is also the least integrated in the world economy, Shanta expressed the wish to see African countries improve on their macro-economic policies in order to stem budgetary deficits. Shanta identified information and communication technologies as another sector if well developed could generate enormous income for African economies that would sustain its growth.
Meanwhile, Katryn Obiageli Ezekwesili, the Bank’s Vice President for Africa, noted that the continent must work hard to adapt to the consequences of climatic change. She also talked of the Bank’s determination to help African stakeholders cope with the climatic change phenomenon. Obiageli and Shanta told journalists that countries of the continent possess enormous diversity in terms of resources. They recommended the putting in place of strong institutions that can stir economic growth. The media was also urged to take government officials to task and hold them accountable for their actions.
Other areas in which questions were fielded included kick-backs in the award of contracts, increase in cost of energy provision, inadequate health and education infrastructures, no routes, risk of African countries not attaining the MDGs by 2015, amongst others. The video conference, moderated by Cameroonian born Herbert Yusimbom Boh, had as objective to raise Africa-wide issues ahead of the spring meeting of the World Bank.
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