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Sommet Extraordinaire des Chefs d’Etat d’Afrique Centrale (1)


Opening speech by H.E. Paul BIYA on the occasion of the Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State of Central Africa on the economic and monetary situation of the sub-region

Your Excellencies, Dear Brothers,
The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund,
The French Minister of Economy and Finance,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to wish you and the delegations accompanying you a warm welcome and a pleasant stay in Cameroon.
I also wish to thank you most sincerely for honouring our invitation to this meeting. Your presence once more bears testimony to your attachment to our sub-region and your constant concern to ensure that it meets its challenges.
I am particularly pleased to acknowledge the presence of Madam Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, and Mr Michel Sapin, Minister of Economy and Finance of France who were kind enough to travel to Yaounde to be with us today.
As you are aware, our sub-region has for long enjoyed appreciable macroeconomic stability characterized by strong growth, low inflation and abundant foreign exchange reserves.
The situation is not the same today.
The prices of our commodities, including oil, have fallen sharply. Coupled with other exogenous shocks (terrorism, numerous forms of insecurity), the crisis has contributed significantly to weakening our economies. Their growth has slowed down, inflation has increased and our foreign exchange reserves have dropped considerably.
If this situation were to persist, it could undermine the foundations of our sub-region and our Economic and Monetary Community.
We must therefore act quickly. We must act in concert.
We are aware that current projections do not indicate an improvement on international commodity markets in the near future.
Your Excellencies, Dear Brothers,
This meeting gives us the opportunity to map out a common response to an uncertain international economic environment. Such response should take into account the need to preserve the economic stability and long-term sustainability of our sub-region.
Our common response should also take into account the social constraints of our States, within a context where we have to meet the pressing needs of our populations.
Your Excellencies, Dear Brothers,
In view of the situation I have just described, allow me to express the firm conviction that the constant and active solidarity which we have always shown should once more be put to use.
We must find the most appropriate ways to safely emerge from the crisis.
The address by the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund will certainly provide useful insights into the Institution's perception of the economic problems of our sub-region.
The sound advice and constant technical assistance of the IMF and other development partners will undoubtedly be very useful to us.
Our sub-region cannot be at a standstill.
If we remain united and supportive, if we translate our political will into appropriate measures, I am convinced that we will return to progress and co-prosperity.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Yaounde, 23 December 2016


Closing speech by H.E. Paul BIYA on the occasion of the Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State of Central Africa on the economic and monetary situation of the sub-region


Your Excellencies, Dear Brothers,
The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund,
The Minister of Economy and Finance of the French Republic
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In my opening speech, I clearly noted that our sub-region was going through a difficult period due to external shocks that may slow down its growth and, hence, undermine its development goals.
However, I also expressed my firm conviction that if, together, we were prepared to take the decisions required by the situation, we could, with the support of our partners, return to the path of economic progress.
I believe this special summit has enabled us to clearly assess the challenges we have to meet and to, in a concerted manner, adopt solutions which can help us to sail through these stormy waters.
I believe it is necessary to underscore this momentum of active solidarity encouraged by our traditional friends, which seeks to pull our sub-region out of its current difficulties. Seemingly, our discussions have clearly shown that joint action would ensure greater efficiency in the current context.
Of course, this will not mean that we should not take targeted measures to address the specific problems of each of our countries.
The collective strategy that needs to be implemented should address a number of key issues:
At the fiscal level, in order to maintain a sustainable balance, it would be necessary to broaden the tax base to increase revenue and improve the quality of spending.
At the same time, it would be necessary to ensure that these adjustment measures do not impede growth and do not worsen the living conditions of the most vulnerable segments of the population.
With regard to public debt, measures should be taken to ensure its sustainability.
In the same vein, it would be necessary for our bilateral and multilateral partners to be more flexible, owing to the sharp fall in commodity prices.
As far as our monetary policy is concerned, our Central Bank has provided support to cushion fiscal shocks. However, other levers should be used to preserve our monetary stability which is threatened by balance-of-payments problems.
Support from the IMF would certainly be indispensable, in cooperation with France, our partner in the monetary field.
It goes without saying that the success of this strategy also depends on accelerating integration within our sub-region, diversifying our economy and improving the business climate in our various countries.
Your Excellencies, Dear Brothers,
The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund,
The Minister of Economy and Finance of the French Republic
I firmly believe in the common destiny that binds us within our sub-region. This explains why I think that, individually and collectively, we must, in cooperation with our partners, make every effort to give our sub-region the best chance of achieving renewed growth.
It is in the interest of each and everyone.
Thank you for your attention.
 Yaounde, 23 December 2016







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Henriette Nshan Tem

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