High Consumer Goods: Beyond Politicking!

Cameroonians and logically most, if not all people, living within the national territory are certainly anxiously waiting to see the outcome of government’s call for a drop in the prices of some high consumer goods. In effect, Trade Minister a few days ago, entreated dealers in bread, chicken, eggs and cement to lower prices of these commodities on the market as a result of lower production costs, assuaged by a favourable global economic environment. 
Concerning chicken and table eggs, it is said that hopes of reduced prices are rekindled by a drop in the price of maize from FCFA 310 per kilo to FCFA 200. At the same time, wheat bran, which used to sell at FCFA 150,000 has recently been selling at FCFA 70,000 per ton, a fall of 58%. Above all, chicks are plentiful and available, and so prices have to be stabilised. 
With regards to bread and other related products, the government’s standpoint is that following recent consultations with the milling industry, it emerged that in line with the trend in wheat prices on the international market, stakeholders had automatically lowered the ex-factory price of flour by between FCFA 4,000 and 4,500 a bag. As such, the quantity, which used to cost FCFA 50 and was now sold at FCFA 100 or even FCFA125 is obviously supposed to return to its hitherto price. In the meantime, the President of the Association of Cement Producers of Cameroon has been urged to communicate the new factory prices of products as a matter of urgency. This is to ensure that they are duly passed on by the supply circuit to the final consumer. Government holds that apart from ethical considerations, common sense dictates that the fall in the cost of these essential goods should be passed on to the consumer. How well the legitimate concerns are heeded to is therefore a wait-and-see!
From a cursory reading of government’s argument, it would not be fair for dealers in these and other produce to maintain the current rates when factors that caused the hike in the prices are abating. Consumers need to feel the effects of the reduced cost of production. This, on condition that the cost of the final produce depends solely on facts presented.
There seems to be some glimmer of hope, provided the manifested will to down the prices doesn’t end on paper. Wholesalers in egg, poultry and flour have announced adjustments.
What however needs to be underlined here is the attitude of some of the importers who would jump at every opportunity to up prices and would never cough even when factors become favourable for price reduction. They seem to hold tight to the business dictum of always minimizing cost to maximize profits. Regrettably, almost always at the detriment of struggling population whose purchasing power doesn’t give them room for serious variations.
Whatever is taken into consideration to determine the final cost of any produce should not have even been the problem for Cameroon especially some of the high consumer goods had decision-makers made good use of the country’s natural endowments. The country is gifted in vast and fertile arable land, good weather and a youthful population that rational thinking, would place it on the list of exporters and not the deplorable long dependence on the outside world to feed its population. Incessant importations leave the country at the mercy of shylock businessmen, most of whom are almost always into speculative manipulations to reap huge.
Government’s recent call to order of rice suppliers and distributors who are trying to create artificial scarcity so as to charge higher is just an illustration of a rather ragging business practice that enriches the business people and drains already stressed consumers. This usually happens during peak consumption periods like the upcoming end-of-year festivities. 
Visibly, there are some decision-makers who find egoistic solace in imports; where they obviously have kickbacks than in boosting local production which would have reduced the importations. If not, why is there much talk on boosting local production than real action to walk the talk? From second-generation agriculture to now import substitution, the country is rather turning on one spot or even regressing. There is no way a country can step up local production of whatever produce when priority seems to be given to imports. No importer has an interest in seeing goods he imports produced locally. It needs more than just mere talking!
It is the role of government to put in place strict measures against imports and investment-friendly policies to considerably improve local production. For instance, progressively reducing the quantity of imports and making import conditions more difficult and at the...



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