(Business in Cameroon) - On June 11, 2021, Minister of Public Services (MINFOPRA) Joseph Lé (photo), signed 28 decisions launching the recruitment of new staff into the civil service this year. Officially, 1,536 seats are to be filled this year against 3,700 in 2020, 5,411 in 2019, and 5,179 in 2018.
According to the MINFOPRA, this drastic drop in the number of civil servants to be recruited is due to the particularly “harsh socioeconomic environment” marked by the coronavirus pandemic’s impacts on the productive sectors of the economy.
This environment forces “the government to make special adjustments,” Minister LE explained. Apart from making “special adjustments” called for by the socioeconomic environment, the government is trying to address a structural problem that has become harmful for public finances by reducing the number of recruitments.
Indeed, as officials explain, in recent years, the country’s rising wage bill is gradually undermining the budget balance.
In a document annexed to the 2021 finance law, the Ministry of Finance revealed that over the past 10 years, Cameroon’s wage bill has risen by an average of 5.6% yearly despite the numerous payroll consolidation initiatives taken by the government. It added that a study carried out in 2018 had already demonstrated that this yearly growth in salary expenditures was due to the number of recruitments, which is usually higher than the number of retirements.
Non-compliance with CEMAC ratios
The same document informs that, between June 2011 and June 2020, the number of Cameroonian civil servants almost doubled, going from 197,471 to 340,957. As for the salary expenditures, they followed the same trend going from XAF681.4 billion to over 1,000 billion.
The main factor contributing to those rises was massive recruitments in the secondary education segment, we learn.
“By rising from 30,640 to 83,308 between January 2010 and June 2020, the number of secondary school teachers rose 2.7 folds. It now represents 34.4% of the number of civil servants employed by Cameroon, against 15.8% in early 2010. At the same time, their salaries now represent 32.3% of the overall salary expenditures against 21% in 2010,” the document reads.
By reducing the number of servants it recruits yearly as it has been doing since 2018 and with the impacts of the recent headcount operation (thanks to which the county identified and expunged thousands of ghost workers from its payroll), Cameroon can now meet the CEMAC region's wage sustainability ratio, which is 35%.
This ratio is computed by dividing the country’s tax and customs revenues by the wage bill. In 2019, it was 36.5%, significantly better than the 39.7% recorded in 2017.
Brice R. Mbodiam