Reduces convergence criteria from 11 to six

BY Emma Ujah,  Abuja Bureau Chief

ABUJA—Efforts towards the integration of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, have received a boost with the decision of the Authority of Heads of State and Government to ban residence permit and introduce a common Biometric Identity Card for all citizens of the sub-region.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Kadre Ouedraogo, told the 37th Meeting of the Technical Committee of the West African Monetary Zone, WAMZ, in Abuja, yesterday, that the decision was part of the new push to realise the goal of a fully integrated ECOWAS.

“I am delighted to report that the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government have approved the abolition of the residence permit and the introduction of the Biometric Identity Card for the Community citizens.
“The Authority subsequently requested the Ministers in charge of Security to review all the security implications of the measure prior to the signing of the Supplementary Acts on the issues.

“Member States are urged to continue to ensure that the non-tariff barriers, NTBs, are reduced to the barest minimum by reducing and consolidating the checkpoints along the international transit corridors,” the President said, in an address read on his behalf by the Acting Director of Multilateral Surveillance, Dr. Nelson Magbagbeola.

He added that the Heads of State and Government also decided to reduce the convergence criteria for the establishment of a single monetary zone from 11 to 6, to make them achievable by member countries.
He said: “Specifically, the Authority adopted the creation of a fiscal union to complement the monetary union and reduction of macroeconomic convergence criteria from 11 criteria (4 primary and 7 secondary criteria) to 6 criteria (3 primary and 3 secondary criteria).

“The three  primary criteria are as follows: budget deficit of not more than 3 per cent of GDP; a single digit inflation; and gross reserves of not less than 3 months of imports.
“The three secondary convergence criteria adopted by the Authority are: public debt/GDP of not more than 70 per cent; central bank financing of budget deficit not more than 0 per cent of previous year’s tax revenue; and nominal exchange rate variation ±10 per cent.”

It was also decided that the ECOWAS Monetary Institute be created by 2018 in accordance with a well-defined roadmap with clear responsibilities assigned to the regional institutions involved in the monetary integration process and the support measures necessary to facilitate the monetary integration process.

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