President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Brou, says without convergence, the implementation of ECOWAS single currency will be catastrophic when implemented.
Mr Brou made this known on Tuesday in Abuja while presenting the State of the Community in 2019 to the Second Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament.
He said that mechanisms for the implementation of the ECOWAS single currency, tackling regional insecurity, trade integration, and ease of transportation were the major priorities of the ECOWAS Commission in 2019.
According to him, the authorities of ECOWAS Heads of Government identified convergence as one of the key elements for the successful implementation of the ECOWAS single currency.
Mr Brou said that creating a single currency was an old initiative which started many years ago with different attempts made to come up with a single currency throughout the region.
He explained that as a result of all the impediments, the Heads of States, some five years ago decided that it would be a gradual approach, and member states might not have to move into the single currency at the same time.
“There were several key decisions but again, one of the key elements is convergence
” It is one amongst others, but it is very important because if you do not converge, it means you are diverging.
“If you are diverging, how can you have a single currency? So convergence is very critical and we are monitoring that through the Central Bank Governors and Ministerial Committees.
“We are monitoring the convergence criteria every six months and making reports to the Heads of States and once we have the final results on the convergence criteria in 2020, then on this basis, we launch it,” Mr Brou said.
Mr Brou said that collaborative measures to achieve the implementation of the single currency in different aspects included agreeing on a flexible exchange regime and the monetary framework.
He explained that the challenges confronting the sub-region also required the collaborative efforts of member countries.
Mr Brou told the Members of Parliament, that terrorist attacks, and inter-communal clashes, were heightened in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Northern Nigeria.
He, however, urged member states, on counter-terrorism mechanisms, civil intervention, equipping of their armed forces, and educating youths against violent extremism, as a way to addressing the challenges.
Responding to the challenge of free trade, as a result of Nigeria’s border closure to Benin and Niger Republic, Mr Brou said a lot of initiatives and measures had been put in place to resolve the situation.
He said that among the measures, was the setting up of a Tripartite Committee with Membership from Nigeria, Niger, and Benin to resolve the issues and agree on a way forward, in order to ease regional trade.
“The border closure between Nigeria, Benin and Niger has an impact, but what matters to us is not to say this is a country that should be blamed.
“A lot of initiatives were adopted. We made a lot of contacts. It is not everything we made public but a lot of activities were deployed which were not made public.
“For trade to restart we shall continue to work on it so that very quickly, the issues identified and constraints that were identified are resolved and things return to normal,” Mr Brou said.
He called for the commitments of Member States to their financial obligations, explaining that it would not be easy for the commission to implement its programmes with limited resources.
He said that as at September, only 20 per cent of the 2019 budget approved by the members of Parliament had been realised.
In his remarks, Nazaire Sado, representing Benin republic called on the ECOWAS Commission to urgently address the issues with Nigeria’s border closure.
He said that as a community, no country should be allowed to take such actions that would affect other countries in the region, as he called for mutual respect among countries regardless of their size.
Olatubosun George from Nigeria, however, noted that the Nigerian borders were closed just partially against smuggled and substandard goods, which was for the interest and protection of Nigerian citizens.
George called for the enforcement of compliance to the ECOWAS Trade and Liberalisation Scheme by member states.