Hon. Sulayman Joof Vice Chairman, Joint Committee on Administration and Finance, Economic Policies and Budget Control and Hon. Momodou Sanneh a member of the said committee recently returned from Asaba in the Delta state of Nigeria. The ECOWAS Parliament Joint Committee on Administration and Finance, Economic Policies and Budget Control met in Asaba, Delta State of Nigeria from the 7th to the 11th of July 2008. The theme of the meeting was 'A Single Currency for the Community'. The meeting was opened by Senator Patrick Osakwe, chairman of the Joint Committee on Administration and Finance, Economic Policies and Budget Control and the ECOWAS Commission. The West African Monetary Agency (WAMA) and the West Africa Monetary Institute (WAMI) were the participants at the meeting.
Speaking to The Point shortly after their return, Hon. Sulayman S. Joof said the participants came out with the following recommendations to the ECOWAS Commission for onward transmission to the Commission, Council of Ministers and Authority:
"There is a need to differentiate between currency union and monetary union, Currency union should be pursued big bang using the critical mass of the economics of Nigeria (61.1 % of ECOWAS GDP), UEMOA (27.2% of ECOWAS GDP) and Ghana (7.6% of ECOWAS GDP) and that the existing 2009 deadline should be maintained. UEMOA and WAMZ should harmonise their objectives with ECOWAS and give practical meaning and substance to agreed progressive renunciation of 1991 to enable ECOWAS stabilise as a regional bloc in the sub-region and to eliminate identified systemic waste and duplication of functions. Since the WAMZ project is not at variance with the single currency project for the whole of ECOWAS, the objectives of the WAMZ programme should be pursued while the feasible modalities for the single track/direct approach is being examined. The recent gains achieved in macroeconomic performance, fiscal and monetary policy implementation as well as structural policies should be consolidated and further enhanced, that the development of a zonal payments and settlement system and capital account liberalisation in the zone should continue to be pursued, that the national statistical systems to enhance comparability and reliability of statistics in Member Countries should be strengthened, that renewed pressure should be put on the larger countries in the community to take the initiative to drive the speedy realisation of the ECOWAS single currency program. Specifically Nigeria and other relatively bigger regional economies such as Ghana, Cote d' Ivoire and Senegal should be encouraged. Sensitisation activities on the ECOWAS single currency initiative should be stepped up to involve a leading role for civil societies and the ECOWAS Parliament while necessary steps should be taken to reinforce mass support and ownership of the program, regional protocols should be as a matter of urgency be ratified and faithfully implemented by the Member States, the Ministers of Finance and Governors of central banks must regularly attend meetings of the Convergence Council while the Convergence Councils should hoId regular meetings as provided by their respective statues."
The ECOWAS Parliament and civil society operators are expected to play an increasingly significant role in the implementation of programs geared towards the realisation of the common currency. Hon. Joof said the committee also proposed to PLENARY that the Parliament should take the following complimentary steps to become full players in the EPA negotiations: "Capacity building for Parliamentarians, a Parliamentary Committee to monitor developments in the negotiations, Communication and Strategic Alliances."
As opposed to what is said about the Niger Delta State, Hon. Joof wish to state that the Niger Delta State is peaceful and the people are very friendly. They received hospitality from the Governor and the traditional rulers. The countries that participated were Benin, Liberia, Ghana, Senegal, Cape Verde, Mali, The Gambia and Nigeria.