ECOWAS parliament speaker links dollars for regional trade to inflation, seeks adoption of common currency

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* ‘Lack of single currency impede regional export’

WorldStage Newsonline– The Speaker of the Parliament of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Dr. Sidie Tunis has called for more political commitment towards the adoption of the ECOWAS common current, while blaming inflation in the region on the use of United States dollars in trade.

Tunis told journalists in Bissau, Guinea Bissau at the on-going parliamentary seminar on Sequencing ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Towards Single Currency, with the theme: “ECOWAS Common Currency and the Inter Bank Payment System as Promoters of Regional Trade,”  that, “We should be able to trade easily with our currency but that is not happening,  trading with USD is naturally increasing prices on our commodities.

Tunis said there had been a lot of commitments from the Authority of Heads of States and there have been a series of meetings specifically about the single Currency.

“Now with the progress in place, I believe every member would want it to be successful, that is the reason why we are all here,” he said.

 “The most important thing is that there is commitment from the leaders, the authorities of head of states on single Currency.

 “He said beyond the political commitments to the currency project, that the next big issue is how to transition to the next phase of currency adoption and introduction in the region.  “What we should be thinking of now is how to move from where we are right now to the next level. That is where the problem is.

 “How do we also overcome the influence of the people outside the sub-region? The good thing is that the Authority of the heads of States are very committed, they have a determination to move it forward, so it is only good for us to be realistic and that is the only way we can come together to agree on the year 2027.

 “That is why we bring the 15 countries from West Africa here and experts from Africa monitoring agencies.”

On the benefits of the ECOWAS common currency, Tunis said that its introduction will drive down inflation, he said,  “The benefits are enormous. Today we are grumbling about prices on commodities everywhere, principally because of the currency,  we are all trading with the USD, we are not trading  amongst ourselves.”

LACK OF SINGLE CURRENCY IMPEDE REGIONAL EXPORT

Dr Sidie Tunis in his speech at the fifth Legislature with the theme “ECOWAS Common Currency and the Inter Bank Payment System as Promoters of Regional Trade”, disclosed  that lack of Single Currency in the ECOWAS region has impeded viable exports which currently stands at 10%, margin that is very low for a region of 400 million.

He said, ” As you are aware, intra-regional trade is relatively low in the ECOWAS region. According to statistics, it represents about 10% of both exports and imports of Member States.

“Several reasons have been put forward to explain these low levels of intra-community trade. Among these, the lack of a single currency among ECOWAS Member countries has been identified as a major obstacle and a factor that aggravates transaction costs. In addition, efficient payment systems are a stimulus for intra-regional trade.

“Having identified these challenges, and to increase the volume of trade in the region, the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government decided to accelerate the process of creating a single currency, through the adoption of the convergence pact and a new roadmap for the launch of the single currency by 2027. It is gratifying to state that this decision by the Heads of State, has led to significant progress in recent years.

“As a consequent thereof, the ECOWAS Parliament, through this parliamentary seminar, saw it befitting for members to be informed on these policies and programmes of the Community, namely the state of progress of the single currency programme, as well as the project for the development of the inter-bank payment system.

“The Parliament also wishes to contribute fully to the process of creating the single currency, by ensuring effective monitoring of the Community bodies and institutions in charge of this programme and by promoting the support of the populations of which we are, in essence, the closest representatives.

This parliamentary seminar should, therefore, enlighten us on the conditions for strengthening convergence and macroeconomic stability in the region.

” It would also provide a greater insight into the coordination of economic policies, and the development of a payments system for the Member States to facilitate their economic integration. Furthermore, this seminar would address all the other challenges we are determined to meet, to achieve the single currency by 2027, as announced.

This would provide Honorable Members with the opportunity to debate the new roadmap submitted by the ECOWAS Commission to the Authority of Heads of State and Government and, at the same time, make proposals and recommendations guaranteeing the start of the monetary union in 2027.

In conducting this seminar, we intend to take advantage of the expertise of Resource Persons from the ECOWAS Commission, the West African Monetary Agency (WAMA) and the West African Monetary Institution (WAMI), as well as other experts from the region who have worked painstakingly to produce high quality reports and studies on the single currency process.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the ECOWAS Commission for the remarkable work it has done so far. Specifically, I wish to commend the President of the ECOWAS Commission and his Commissioners, as well as other Heads of Institutions and Agencies of the Community, for their dedication and selflessness in the implementation of the monetary cooperation programme.

” It is important to bear in mind that achieving a common currency would no doubt be a major milestone in the West African cooperation and integration programme. We have a duty to make that happen.

“Let me state that the advent of a single currency gives us the opportunity to build a strong economy, that can compete with other emerging economies in the world. It is, therefore, our duty to seize this historic opportunity.

 “I wish us a very good seminar, hoping that whatever output we achieve here in the next three days, would go a long way in benefitting the people of the region,”he said.

In his keynote address,  the President of the Republic of Guinea Bissau  Umaro Sissoco Embalo, expressed personal support in actualising the adoption of the Single Currency within the ECOWAS region.

He said, “we are creating a new economy which is also financial and commercial within  ECOWAS., the money system that we want to establish will encourage or stimulate our development and maintain the friendship, solidarity and cooperation among our countries and populations.

He added that, this process should be conducted very conclusively because there are various challenges ahead, this is the reason to introduce the common Currency also the involvement of political class and all those interested parties as well as creating a foundation of strong political and economical integration.