The vice President, His Excellency Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, has criticized the lack of progress on the West Africa Economic and Monetary Union, otherwise referred to as the Economic Integration Agenda or the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Single Currency Programme.

Mr Amissah-Arthur, who was addressing participants at the opening of the 35th meeting of the Wet Africa Monetary Zone (WAMZ) Convergence Council in Accra, last Friday, expressed disappointment that the establishment of the second monetary zone had been postponed five times.

The Vice President wondered whether the WAMZ convergence agenda-the simultaneous and sustained compliance with all the primary convergence criteria by all countries-was still relevant, given the lack of progress and the financial burden to the tax payer.

He also questioned the rationale for continuing to maintain three surveillance institutions-the West Africa Monetary Institute (WAMI), West Africa Monetary Association (WAMA) and the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM)-when they could not make progress in the integration agenda.

He noted that given the centrality of the exchange rate in the convergence process, its volatility and its transmission role in reserve accumulation, price formation and the fiscal deficit, there was, probably an advantage for countries to enhance currency stability by devaluing. “Will formal discrete devaluation, rather than creeping depreciation, not increase in currency stability and resilience, thereby boosting convergence?”, he queried.

The Vice President said the resolve to pursue a monetary union within ECOWAS remained undaunted as that would make the economy of West Africa more resilient, especially to exogenous shocks.

He, therefore, called for a stability mechanism, the creation of a banking union, strengthening of fiscal regimes in member countries and improvement in information sharing and surveillance within the Zone, adding that institutional innovations could be pursued, based on the experience of others such as the Euro zone.

In a statement, the Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Dr Toga Gayewea McIntosh, pledged the commitment of the ECOWAS Commission to the monetary integration agenda and the sustainable development goal of the Community.

Dr McIntosh said the effective implementation of the regional monetary integration programme remained high on the agenda of the Commission and that the ECOWAS leadership had, in recent years, demonstrated renewed interest and enhanced political will to accelerate the pace of implementation of all regional integration programmes.

He explained that the renewed interest was manifest with the appointment of the Presidents of Ghana and Niger in October 25, 2013 to oversee the accelerated implementation of the monetary integration programme and to ensure the realization of the single currency programme by the year 2020.

Further to this, Dr McIntosh said, the Authority of Heads of State and Government, at its 47th Ordinary Session in Accra on May 19, 2015, decided to expand the Presidential Task Force on the ECOWAS Monetary Co-operation Programme (EMCP) to include the Heads of State of Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria.

He noted that in 2015, some of the activities outlined in the road map for the ECOWAS Single Currency Programme had also been implemented.

These, he said, included finalization of the draft project document on the establishment of the West Africa Monetary Institute (EMI), expected to become operational by January 2018 and serve as a transitory organization that would undertake preparatory activities for the establishment of a Common Central Bank for the Zone by June 2019.

In addition, Dr McIntosh said, during 2015, the institutional organs of the ECOWAS Multilateral Surveillance Mechanism were effectively monitored and the macro-economic convergence criteria rationalized while the Supplementary Act on the Macro-economic Convergence Pact was also revised.

He, therefore, urged all stakeholders to undertake all necessary measures for the realization of the ECOWAS Single Currency by the year 2020.


Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)
Photo: ISD (Enoch Norvor)