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Cameroon Urged to Curb Ministerial Discretion in Customs and Taxes

Cameroon Urged to Curb Ministerial Discretion in Customs and Taxes

Paru le jeudi, 21 décembre 2023 16:07

In a recent technical report, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) made a series of recommendations to the Cameroonian authorities on good governance and corruption. In the report, IMF experts recommend eliminating the "exorbitant" transactional power held by the Minister of Finance (Minfi) in customs and tax operations. 

The IMF argues that Minfi's broad decision-making authority restricts the roles of the Directors General of the customs and tax administrations. This creates an environment prone to political interference and undermines operational efficiency. By removing Minfi's direct influence in individual assessments and transactions, the report suggests, greater transparency and accountability can be established.

In Cameroon, the Book of Tax Procedures (LPF) allows users to appeal to the Minfi for penalty remission. For instance, after a tax reassessment of a little over XAF10 billion, business mogul Jean-Pierre Amougou Belinga's TV company Vision 4 filed an appeal with the Minfi last year. The tax was reduced to less than XAF2 billion. The incident sparked public uproar at the time and divided public opinion. 

The Customs Code also grants the Minfi considerable authority to influence individual transactions. This "transactional power," as the IMF report terms it, allows Minfi to intervene in cases exceeding XAF50 million in compromised duties or XAF300 million in customs values (Article 394). While the Director General of Customs wields this power for smaller infractions, the substantial sums involved in most cases effectively place Minfi at the helm of most customs transactions.

Michel Ange Nga

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