By Victoria Ojeme
Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Sidie Mohamed Tunis has disclosed that the 0.5 percent levy which was imposed on goods from non-ECOWAS member states, was intended to cater for about 80 percent of the community’s budget revenue.
He also said that plans are on the way in addressing the low remittance of community levy by member states.
The Speaker , who lamented the low levy at the ongoing first parliamentary session for the year 2021, in Sierra Leone, Freetown, said the session will afford member states an opportunity to strategize on how to address the situation.
Speaking on the theme: ‘Involvement of Members of the ECOWAS Parliament in Monitoring the Application of the Protocol Relating to the Community Levy, Tunis said the levy was meant to galvanise the required funds for the accomplishment of the missions of the parliament and other ECOWAS Institutions.
“In this regard, I recall that the community levy is a mechanism set up by ECOWAS Heads of State and Government and has been operational since 2003.
“Sadly, we are witnessing a low mobilization of the said resources which has been around 30 percent of forecasts over the past three years.
“In addition, the import receipts on which the community levy is based have also dwindled due to the impact of the health crisis on the global economy.
“Faced with such a difficulty and with the peril which threatens the implementation of community projects and programmes, as well as the execution of the activities of the community institutions, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, on the occasion of our Second Extraordinary Session for year 2020, held via video conference, in July 2020, requested the assistance of the Parliament in the implementation of the ECOWAS Protocol on the Community Levy.
“This seminar therefore forms part of the continuation of Parliament’s efforts to make a significant contribution to the resolution of this priority challenge.
“It, therefore, offers all of us the opportunity to make relevant and innovative proposals and thus provide the full complement of the effectiveness of parliamentary action.
“We are therefore entreated during our discussions, to define an intervention framework for parliamentarians in the strategy of mobilizing the said resources and to find the means to achieve the effective application of the ECOWAS Protocol, because, the community levy is the very expression of the solidarity and responsibility of our respective governments in the process of integration and in the achievement of the regional agenda.”
Tunis further said the ambition of ECOWAS which was to build a prosperous and peaceful community space, was irreversible, even as he said the results obtained in the common market were very appreciable.
He also advised the citizens of the region to get vaccinated against the dreaded virus to curb its spread.