Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative: Interim Mines Minister clarifies MPs on Cameroon’s suspension.

Prof Fuh Calistus addressing MPs during plenary sitting

The Interim Minister of Mines, Industry and Technological Development, Prof Fuh Calistus Gentry, has clarified Members of Parliament on the raison d’ être of Cameroon’s suspension from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, EITI, programme.

This was during plenary sitting dedicated to questions and answer held Thursday July 4. It was chaired by Speaker of the National Assembly, Rt Hon Cavaye Yeguie Djibril. 

Prof Fuh Calistus was amongst five government ministers present at the plenary sitting to provide clarifications to the people’s representatives on some pertinent issues related to their ministries. 

During the verbal question phase, Hon Essomba Bengono Engelbert directed his questions to the interim mines boss. 

His preoccupation was on the recent suspension of Cameroon from the EITI programme which he believed were linked to the Glencore affair, involving alleged bribes and acts of corruption by officials of the National Hydrocarbons Corporation, SNH, and the National Oil Refinery Corporation, SONARA, which has tarnished the country's image worldwide.

“Could you kindly explain to the people's representatives what pressing measures the government intends to take, and how soon this will be done, in order to ensure Cameroon's readmission to the EITI programme?” he fired at the Minister. 

Mounting the rostrum, Prof Fuh Calistus explained to the MPs that Cameroon was not suspended due to the alleged GLENCORE affairs. 

He stated that the country’s suspension was rather as a result of an element of the civil society that had been neglected. 

“Our country was suspended at the end of a validation, that is, an evaluation on the level of implementation of mining. After the adhesion to EITI in 2005, Cameroon took the engagement to respect and put in place the exigencies of international norms in the extractive industry sector” the minister edified the lawmakers. 

According to him, the country was given positive marks on several aspects that were evaluated such as transparency, putting in place of norms, publication of report on the impact of extractive industry on living conditions of population, state budget and others. He acknowledged that the country only obtained a poor score on the inclusion of the civil society. 

“…The engagement with the civil society. It is precisely on this point that we got a poor score and from which our suspension emanated from,” he admitted. 

However, he reiterated that Cameroon remains a member of the IETI programme despite the suspension and that government is taking measures to redress the situation. 

“In 18 months-time, Cameroon’s candidature will be considered and I want to assure everybody that Cameroon scored very high mark as far as transparency of SNH and other sectors of the extractive industries are concerned,” he asserted. 

Regarding the GLENCORE affair, the minister explained the Head of State has approve an investigation into the affair to ascertain those responsible and to follow normal legal procedure on the different cases. 

Cross view of MPs during sessions



Anomalies in mining sector

When Hon Djeumeni Bénilde took the floor, he took interest in the President Paul Biya’s address to the nation on December 31, 2022, when he emphasized the need to diversify the State's sources of revenue and authorized large-scale projects designed to develop the country’s mining potential, structure the economy and create jobs.

In light with this, he expressed his worries about what he described as being “secretive” about the mining agreements and implementation procedures of the mining projects, its benefits on the economy and the well-being of the population.

In response, the Minister said mining activities are being carried out in all transparency and are made available to the public via the ministry’s official site and offices. 

“In terms of mining conventions and the rest, we do it with everybody including members of parliament, civil society and even journalists. So, we believe that Cameroon has a lot to show Africa as far as mining conventions, transparency and innovations of physical laws are concerned” the minister explained. 

He also enlightened that Cameroon has opted for production sharing as a means to curb the high cost involve in mining and as well to share in the dividends. 

Noting the expensive nature of mining activities, the minister said “we have to make sure the law in our country attracts those in the mining field and the administration get the benefits of these activities. We have taken a lot of measures to redress the anomalies in this sector”. 

In addition, the minister explained government is taking measures to ensure that artisanal mining in the East Region and elsewhere are henceforth done in a closed system in a bid to eliminate child labour in the mining sites, ensure transparency, and safeguard the environment and surrounding population.


This story was first published in The Guardian Post issue No:3162 of Monday July 8, 2024


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