29 July 2017

West Africa: CBL Weeks Says 'Much Time, Efforts Put Into Deeper Ecowas Integration'

The Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Milton A. Weeks, says since the formation of ECOWAS in 1975, much time, effort and resources have been channelled into developing deeper and cohesive integration framework under the monetary cooperation arrangement.

Governor Weeks pointed out that in response to this objective Member States have continued to demonstrate serious commitment and support to the integration process.

He made the statement recently at the opening of the 31st Joint Ordinary Meeting of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and Operations and Administration Committee of the West Africa Monetary Agency (WAMA) held in the conference room of the Central Bank of Liberia.

Governor Weeks said in 2016l for instance, unfavorable global economic conditions manifested adversely on economies in the region, resulting in a subdued aggregate marginal growth of 0.1 percent on the backdrop of inflationary pressures in some countries.

He noted that with growing constraints in the external sector and subdued domestic revenue, fiscal policy worsened in many countries whilst some domestic currencies, including Liberia's, have come under pressure.

Governor Weeks also said that under the circumstances, performance under the macroeconomic convergence program deteriorated, especially with regards to the fiscal policy-related benchmarks.

"This development underscores the need for concerted efforts to put in place necessary buffers to enhance the resilience of our economies to such periodic shocks," he said.

He noted that member states have made some progress in sustaining collaboration in the political, legal, commercial and financial arena, among other areas of cooperation.

According to him, in spite of some security and administrative challenges, significant progress has been made under the protocol relating to free movement of goods, persons and capital across respective borders.

"In this regard, I commend the efforts made to enhance intra-regional trade under the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) and the movement toward a customs union through the adoption and recent implementation of the Common External Tariff (CET) in most Member States," Governor Weeks stated.

In addition, he said, significant progress has been made under various policy harmonization programs, especially, in the areas of balance of payment statistics and the attempts to define an appropriate common monetary policy and exchange rate regime.

He said over the last three decades, Member States have endeavored to improve the macroeconomic fundamentals through various structural adjustment programs and policy reforms.

"In fact, the Governors had, on numerous occasions, emphasized the need for prudent policies. Until recently, the growth momentum in most countries had generally been encouraging," he indicated.

He, however, noted that sustaining macroeconomic stability, a precondition for a successful convergence towards a credible union, has been quite elusive.

The effects of the recent global dynamics and uncertainties on the economies in the region present a glaring evidence of the extent of our exposure to external shocks, Weeks observed.

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