The 29th meeting of the Committee of Governors of Central Banks of the West Africa Monetary Zone (WAMZ) has taken place in Accra.
The meeting provides a regular platform to review developments in the WAMZ and to chart the way forward,
Welcoming participants to the meeting in Accra, yesterday, Dr Abwaku Englama, Director-General of the West Africa Monetary Institute (WAMI), disclosed that during the review period, none of the member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had satisfied all the four primary macroeconomic convergence criteria to warrant the introduction of a single currency for ECOWAS.
Dr Englama said while The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria had satisfied three criteria each, Guinea and Sierra Leone were in compliance with two each.
The WAMI Director-General said meeting the inflation and fiscal deficit criteria remained a challenge for most countries, with three members―The Gambia, Ghana and Liberia― complying with the inflation criterion while two members―Liberia and Nigeria― satisfied the fiscal deficit/GDP criterion.
He said the entire member states had satisfied the central bank financing of budget deficit criterion, while five members―The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone had met the external reserves criterion.
On the secondary criteria, Dr Englama said performance remained weak as no country could meet more than two secondary criteria.
He noted that inability to meet the primary and secondary macroeconomic convergence criteria notwithstanding, notable milestones had been achieved in relation to policy harmonisation issues, with negotiations having been concluded in 2012 on the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (ECOWAS CET).
He said the ECOWAS CET was expected to come into force in January 2014, following its approval by the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS, noting, however, that the Joint Committee for the management of the CET had requested further deliberations and consultations on the usage of the proposed harmonised Regional Integration Community Levy of 1.5 per cent.
Dr Englama noted that the protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Establishment continued to be generally observed in all member states in accordance with national laws.
He disclosed that WAMI had developed a project proposal for trade facilitation in the zone, in pursuance of the directive of WAMZ Trade Ministers during the fifth forum in October 2012 in Accra, Ghana.
He made it known that the implementation of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) Institutional Support Project was steadily on course and that the training programmes relating to the work programme of the Institute were undertaken under the ACBF project.
Dr Englama disclosed that WAMI intended to use a portion of the proceeds of the grant received from the ACBF for the development of a local content policy guide and training module for the member states, adding that the policy would set out a framework for promoting indigenous businesses and harnessing the benefits from technological transfer, infrastructure projects and job creation.
On the Payments System Project, Dr Englama said all member states had paid up their counterpart contributions towards the project and that the project was back on track and expected to be completed on schedule.
He noted that improvements in the regulatory and supervisory policies of member states underpinned buoyant activities in the financial sector across the zone, with a focus on strengthening compliance with the revised twenty-nine Basel Core Principles and migration to Basel II and III.
He cited Ghana and Sierra Leone as having fully implemented the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), withother member states at various stages of migration to the Standards.
Dr Englama noted that member states continued to demonstrate commitment towards Anti Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) by actively participating in the plenary meetings of the Inter-governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering (GIABA) and reinforcing AMI regulations.
He said the College of Supervisions of the WAMZ continued to provide a platform for enhancing financial stability and collaboration among regulators in the zone including the harmonisation of banking supervisory processes.
Dr Englama disclosed that WAMI was the first institution to launch the Statistical Data Management Dissemination Portal being developed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) for African countries.
For his part, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Chairman of the Committee of Governors said WAMI was now rejuvenated to continue to provide evidence-based solutions to guide the Institutes decisions.
Mallam Sanusi called on WAMI to intensify its surveillance programme and for WAMI’s fiscal authorities to put more effortsinto meeting the salary to tax and debt sustainability criteria.
The Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr Henry Kofi Akpenamawu Wampah called on member states to help transform the ECOWAS region into a viable and productive economic and financial space that was truly competitive and able to withstand pressures in a fiercely competitive global economic system.
He urged the entire membership of WAMZ to work tirelessly towards the launch of the common currency for West Africa on January 1, 2015.