22 February 2018

West Africa: Nigeria Urges Caution On Ecowas' Currency Integration Proposal

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(file photo).

Nigeria's President, Muhammadu Buhari, has cautioned member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) against forcing through the planned currency integration in the sub-region by 2020.

Buhari, who was represented by the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, issued the warning on Tuesday, during the fifth meeting of the Presidential Task Force on ECOWAS Currency Programme in Accra, Ghana.

He noted that Heads of Government had not properly articulated and analysed a comprehensive picture of the state of preparedness of individual countries for monetary integration by 2020.

He reiterated that the non-preparedness of some member countries, attempt to water down the criteria and continuing disparities between macro-economic conditions in ECOWAS countries, continued to be major issues of concern that members must examine in order to make progress.

The President further observed that ECOWAS Heads of Government had not been adequately briefed on the full implications of forcing through the integration by 2020, particularly where some countries were not individually ready domestically.

While pointing out that there were still outstanding issues in the roadmap to an integrated currency union, he noted that the macro-economic fundamentals of many countries in ECOWAS were diverse and uncertain.

According to him, the inflation targeting regime recommended as framework was not feasible, as it was based on adoption of a flexible exchange rate regime, noting that the real convergence was nowhere near achievable despite efforts made so far.

Buhari therefore, called for a push towards ratification and domestication of legal instruments and related protocols, and the harmonisation of all fiscal, trade and monetary policies and statistical systems, with a view to limiting the extent of current policy divergences.

He also advised that the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) countries to make a presentation on a clear roadmap towards delinking from the French Treasury.

Furthermore, the President called for a review of the fast-track approach to monetary integration and the harmonisation of plans by ECOWAS members with that of the African Union Programme of monetary convergence that had recommended a convergence deadline of 2034 for the establishment of Regional Central Banks in all sub-regions of the continent.

Nigerian leader also used the occasion of the meeting to call for the establishment of an Ombudsman with powers to invoke sanctions when member countries are in breach of agreed standards, protocols and convergence criteria.

Similarly, the President called for the transformation of the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI) into a West African Monetary Zone Commission, equivalent to the UEMOA commission.

He stressed that his proposal of merging WAMI and WAMA, by the ECOWAS Commission into the ECOWAS Monetary Institute would be very critical in achieving monetary union in the West African sub-region.

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