It’s now official. Cameroonians will have to pay higher to get fuel. With effect from February 1, consumers will pay an additional CFA F 100 to get a litter of fuel. It now costs CFA F 730, up from 630-a 15.3% jump. They will also have to pay an additional CFA 145 (720 CFA F) to get a litter of petrol and diesel from the initial 575, making a spike of 25.2%.
The prices of cooking gas and kerosene however remain the same, at CFA F 6,500 and CFA F 350.
As a mitigating measure, the government has increased the basic salaries of civil servants by 5.2%. Meanwhile, there is a proposal to raise the Minimum Guaranteed Wage from 36,250 to 41,875.
But if the fuel is sold to industries, it will cost slightly less, with a litre set to cost CFA F 560.19, ($0.9317).
“The government counts on the understanding, the sense of responsibility and the civilly of consumers for these measures to be put in place, whose objective is to ensure the continued supply of petroleum products, to allow households and entrepreneurs to harmoniously pursue their activities,” said the Secretary-General at the Prime Minister’s Office, Magloire Seraphine Fouda in a statement announcing the changes.
The government says the prices should have been raised to about CFA F 1,000 a litre, but this could provoke an inflationary spiral with significant socio-political consequences.
The changes come as the IMF continues to mount pressure on Cameroon to remove its costly fuel subsidies.
In 2022 for instance, the public treasury had to spend 700 billion CFA F for this subsidy, compared to 150 billion CFA F a year earlier.
They represent six times the budget allocated to agriculture, four times that to health, and over three times that to energy and water, according to the IMF. ($1 = 601.2500 CFA F).
“When you buy a gas cylinder at CFA F 6,500, it actually costs CFA F 13,500. The budget bears the difference. This means that if the budget was not drawn up in this way, you would normally have to pay CFA F 13,500. The same goes for a litre of petrol sold at CFA F 639, which costs CFA F 1,350,” said the Director General of the Budget at the Cameroon Ministry of Finance.
Still, the current spike in petroleum prices seems bad in a country where citizens are still struggling with the bills and finding it increasingly hard to put food on the table.
The cost of food in Cameroon has been increasing steadily, jumping from a mere 4.1% in October 2021 to 15.5 % as of September 2022.
There are increasing concerns that if prices continue to increase, as will likely happen when current prices hit home, then life could become unbearable in the country.