YAOUNDE, July 7 Cameroon raised the base salary
for government workers and the military on Monday and entered
negotiations with transport workers in an effort to head off
potential social unrest after it cancelled fuel subsidies last
week in a bid to cut costs.
The government announced it was ending subsidies on petrol,
diesel and cooking gas last Monday, pushing up the price of
petrol by 14 percent and diesel by 15 percent. Gas rose 8
"The monthly base salary of civilian and military personnel
is, from the date of the signature of this decree, raised by 5
percent," read the decision signed by President Paul Biya.
Transport workers had threatened to go on strike from Monday
to protest the decision to cut the subsidies, raising the
spectre of unrest as the country tries to please international
However, union officials said on Monday they agreed to a
government request for a one-month delay of the planned strike
to allow time to negotiate a settlement.
"Since the government began with the increase in civil
servant salaries, we are confident that our complaints will also
be taken into account," said Jean Vidal Nji, the president of
one of the transport unions.
The unions representing drivers of buses, taxis and trucks
argue that the increased fuel prices will lead to higher
operating costs and cut into their earnings.
Cameroon has long produced both oil and cocoa, but analysts
say a lack of reform and political stagnation under President
Paul Biya, who has been in power since 1982, have stymied
economic growth and development.
The International Monetary Fund, which has projected
Cameroon's economy to grow by 4.8 percent this year and 5.1
percent in 2015, has for years called for subsidies, which cost
around $600 million a year, to be cut.
But Cameroon has repeatedly delayed the move following a
violent 2008 taxi strike over fuel prices that left over 100
dead and a failed bid to cut similar subsidies in neighbouring
Nigeria in 2012.
(Reporting by Tansa Musa and Anne Mireille Nzouankeu; Writing
by Joe Bavier; Editing by Toby Chopra)