Saturday, September 17, 2011

Nanje Jackson Got It All Wrong!

This treatise is in reaction to Nanje's article “reforming the Cameroon Parliamentary Micro Fund System” posted on Camnet on September 17, 2011 and also published on his blog. I want to disagree with your endorsement of D.S. Gibbons; 1994) claims that Micro Funds started in 1974 in Bangladesh. I cannot fault the learned professor because perhaps he had not traveled to other places and that was the first time he was seeing a venture like that. Actually the people of Nfuni and Kembong claimed that MiCro Funds began from them and lay claims that it began as Social funds.

Notwithstanding, Micro Funds and financing became rampant in Manyu Division since 1963 during the banana days. Then it went to MCFA, then MAFcoop. Then finally disgruntled members from the MAFCOOP then went back again to micro funds and began institutions like Solidarity Savings and Loans (SSL). During that time, the micro funds worked as cooperatives and some even functioned as commercial banks as was the case of SSL and Zion Credit Financing (ZCF).  The micro funds did not start with the government and had nothing to do with the government. However, the government had and has the power to supervise them to make sure that they function properly since their collapse affects the economy directly and indirectly.

Nanje failed to show that the government by giving the money for micro projects to parliamentarians was creating a means of holding the different parliamentarians hostage and making them eternal minions of the president since their departure (8 millions CFA) means a loss of the income which most of them embezzle. Out of all the parliamentarians from Manyu division, it is only honorable Rose Abunaw that I know did a miniature development with her own money even though she failed to used the money for the Mam-mbimbi bridge for which it is alleged she collected money.

What Nanje is writing and what Dr Yanus is saying are two different things. Looking at the objectives (D.S Gibbons; 1994) as Nanje cited, you will agree with me that they are talking about two different things. Nanje is alluding to Micro projects, but Yanus is talking about micro funds. Micro funds extend banking facilities to the poor and not parliamentarians. SSL and ZCF (financing two institutions I audited in a survey in 1998 under CRETES sponsored by Ministry of Agricultrure-MINAGRI) were lending money to the poor to eliminate exploitation by the commercial banks and rich individuals who used usury to lend cash. The micro funds became generally known in the entire country as COPECS because they began functioning as cooperatives, and the government even gave them the same licenses that they used for cooperatives.

The Micro funds gave loans to poor people at a far lower interest rate than commercial banks were giving. They also could finance projects by providing the farmer with the crops and utensils needed rather than providing cash. This paved the way for less mismanagement and reduced the potentialities of failure and embezzlement. In addition, it reduced the wait time and hassle that these same farmers faced when they wanted loans from commercial banks or when they expected the cooperatives from helping; especially as cooperatives were almost becoming government parastatals controlled by the MINAGRI and  her parastatal of MIDENO.

Therefore, suffer it to know that micro projects and micro funds are two different things. The parliamentarians are executing micro projects which could either be financed by micro funds from COPECS or from the government via the parliamentarians. However, there is a major difference between the two in that Micro funds could actually issue loans while the parliamentarians are there to execute the micro projects themselves. If they were to issue loans what would be the interest rate and who determines that?

Due to time constraints, I will not belabor our points of convergence. I agree with you that even the micro projects by parliamentarians is a waste of money as they have embezzled all the money. I had submitted a report to MINAGRI in 1998 about COPECS and how they could sustain and add impetus to the financial sector especially with the rapid fall of the most commercials banks. The government ignored my report and what ensued was the collapse of most of these COPECS as a row of dominoes.

Many people I personally know (including the writer) lost a lot of money; it even brought disrepute to the church as the Full Gospel Mission had adopted the ZCF as their bank despite my warning to the mission leaders. I had helped to advise the founders and CEOs of ZCF, so I knew the structure and dynamics of the Micro Fund and their own shortcomings especially the fact that there was no proper financial oversight and the regulations in placed were not properly enforced.

Nonetheless, it is not late to make amends as we are an emerging economy struggling for a breakthrough. The government should trace the documents they paid me money to research on and then implement the proposals. One thing I will agree with you intoto is that parliamentarians should not be given money to carry out any project. If the poor people in Cameroon could even be so corrupt when they don’t see money, how much more when they see money? At best the government should strengthen those COPECS and with strict oversights and regulations to monitor the financial system, provide adequate consumer protection and security of assets (rather than what happened to SSL and ZCF where the COPEC’s assets were sold to powerful investors because of insecurity) and then the parliamentarians should instead just overlook the entire financial system.

Until then, the entire financial system needs an overhaul.

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk.

“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk). Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk). Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

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