By Victoria Ojeme
DAKAR: The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) through its parliament has reaffirmed its commitment to introducing the community’s unified monetary unit by next year.
Rising from a three-day today seminar in Dakar, the Senegalese capital on the “Challenges and prospects of the ECOWAS single Currency,” the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament Moustapha Cisse Lo said that the people of ECOWAS have a fervent desire to have a single currency to facilitate trade and promote integrated economic development.
Cisse Lo said, “the Single Currency will make it possible to lift the commercial and monetary barriers, lower the cost of transaction and spark up economic activities in the region.”
“All of us are responsible in terms of politics to achieve that objective; we have to be careful to act now,” he noted.
According to Cisse Lo, recommendations from the forum will be forwarded to the highest authority of ECOWAS through the President of the ECOWAS Commission.
“I urge you, once again to continue in your respective parliaments to advocate for the adoption of this currency that will strengthen our political, economic and cultural development.”
He noted that “as representatives of the people of member states, the ECOWAS parliament needs to complement the efforts of the ECOWAS Commission in the implementation and monitoring of the roadmap of the ECOWAS single currency programme.”
Cisse Lo said the ECOWAS Parliament particularly needs to facilitate sensitisation and information on the single currency programme and contribute to improving understanding of the process by the public and private sectors as well civil society operators and encourage them to take ownership of it.
“Parliament also needs to complement the effort of the ECOWAS Commission to ensure effective monitoring of the implementation of the single currency and intercede with member states to ratify d implement protocols and decisions relating to the single currency,” he added.
In a unanimous declaration adopted by the forum, the ECOWAS Parliament said it welcomed the political commitment of the Authority of Heads of State and governments to establish the ECOWAS single currency.
It said it also welcomed the gradual approach in favour of starting with countries that have fulfilled the convergence criteria and the progress made by member states and encourages them to continue in their efforts toward the fulfilment of the convergence criteria and strengthening of the multilateral surveillance mechanism.
The forum also urged all stakeholders to implement the revised roadmap on the single currency.
The ECOWAS Parliament also requests the “Authority of Heads of State and government to take a firm stand regarding compliance with the 2020 deadline for the establishment of the ECOWAS single currency.”
According to the forum, “to ensure the sustainability of the ECOWAS single currency, it is key to continue efforts to harmonize monetary and budgetary policies. This requires the strengthening of the multilateral surveillance mechanism through greater involvement of Central Banks and Finance Ministries.”
It recommended that member states continue and expedite budget consolidation efforts through tax revenue mobilization and the improvement of the quality of public expenses.
“Ensure continued sustainability of public debt through the adoption of appropriate debt strategies. Persevere in ongoing reforms in the structural transformation of economies.”
“Promote regional integration through the free movement of factors of production. Create a permanent integration framework among the ECOWAS commission, WAMA, WAMI and the ECOWAS parliament.”
“Put in place a communication mechanism to reach the greater proportion of the people through national parliaments and civil society organisations.”
Present at the forum included S.E.M. Julio Herbert Lopes, Minister of Integration, Capo-Verde and S.E.M Abdoulaye Makhtar Diop, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Senegal.