ECOWAS Parliament will be championing the adoption of the single currency project in West Africa ahead of the 2020 take off date.
ECOWAS has being working towards a common currency for the West African Monetary Zone to facilitate easy trading within the zone.
The Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Moustapha Cisse Lo stated this in Dakar, Senegal at the opening of the three day Parliamentary seminar on, “The Challenges and Prospects of an ECOWAS Single Currency.
The single currency was first planned to be introduced in 2003, but this was postponed several times, to 2005, 2010, 2014 and now 2020.
For the project to be implemented, ten convergence criteria, set out by the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI), must be met including a single a digit inflation rate at the end of each year, a fiscal deficit of no more than 4% of the GDP, a central bank deficit-financing of no more than 10% of the previous year’s tax revenues and a gross external reserves that can give import cover for a minimum of three months.
Mr. Cisse Lo said that the deadline fixed is very close but noted that people in the region were not well informed about the project.
He said: “The coming into force of a Single Currency in my opinion would be a positive development, but prior to that, there is need to take not only economic measures but to also embark on vast sensitization in each member state to inform our populace.
“The ECOWAS Parliament made up of elected representatives of the population of the community is in the best position to carry out sensitization activities.”
According to him: “Since its inception in the year 2000, from the first to the fourth legislature, this institutions has been striving as much as possible to carry out activities in the various member states for enhanced visibility of ECOWAS as a whole and also to inform the people of the objectives of regional integration. This seminar is one of such activities.”
Mr. Cisse Lo said in accordance with protocol that established the regional parliament and Supplementary Act on the enhancement of its powers the parliament has taking on board the matter of the Single Currency so as to be better informed about the evolution of the process.
Also speaking, Mr Edwin Melvin Snowe, a member of the ECOWAS Parliament and also a Liberian lawmaker, in an interview with Voice of Nigeria, expressed doubt over achieving a single currency for the region by the year 2020.
According to Mr. Snowe the target is not realisable as there is still a lot to be done.
“We still have a long way to go, we must be realistic, we must be honest with each other, we don’t have a name yet, we don’t have a formula yet and we are talking about next year, I don’t see it happening but I wish us well, I hope we can get to the realization one day.”
“We need to divorce our political interest, we all have political interest in this matter and I think until we have the actual reality check and the will power we won’t be able to achieve it.”
“I see it happening in the future, but I don’t foresee it happening by 2020.”
The seminar is expected to review the status of implementation of the ECOWAS Single Currency Programme and to take stock of the progress made thus far, the challenges that still persist and the way forward.