President Muhammadu Buhari has urged member countries of the Economic Community of West African States to intensify efforts in its quest to have single currency programme by 2020.
He assured of the Nigerian Government’s commitment to providing a leadership role in assisting ECOWAS to achieve the single currency programme.
He also assured that Nigeria would continue to play the leadership role in moving the ECOWAS integration agenda forward. The President spoke at the West African Monetary Zone 2018 midyear statutory meetings held in Abuja at the weekend.
The ECOWAS authority had approved the reduction of the macroeconomic convergence criteria from 11 criteria (four primary and seven secondary criteria) to six (three primary and three secondary criteria).
The three primary criteria that are being used are a budget deficit of not more than three per cent; average annual inflation of less than 10 per cent with a long term goal of not more than five per cent by 2019; and gross reserves that can finance at least three months of imports.
The three secondary convergence criteria that have been adopted by ECOWAS are public debt/ Gross Domestic Product of not more than 70 per cent; central bank financing of budget deficit should not be more than 10 per cent of previous year’s tax revenue; and nominal exchange rate variation of plus or minus 10 per cent.
Presenting a progress report at the opening session of the meeting, the Director General, West Africa Monetary Institute, Dr Ngozi Egbuna, had on Thursday explained that as of December 2017, none of the countries had met all the four criteria.
But Buhari, who was represented at the event, said by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, as the largest economy in the region, a lot of responsibility rested on Nigeria for the establishment and sustainability of the monetary union.
Buhari stated, “Let me underscore that Nigeria remains committed to the integration agenda and a sustainable development of our community with the overall goal of improving the quality of life of all ECOWAS citizens.
“In order to move the integration forward in very sustainable manner, Nigeria, once again emphasizes that economic convergence must be based on sound and sustainable macroeconomic fundamentals and to reconsider the issue of transforming WAMI (West African Monetary Institute) into a commission.
“This is very critical because the propose merger of WAMI and WAMZ by the ECOWAS Commission into a ECOWAS Monetary Institute would leave the WAMZ with no forum to exchange ideas and discuss matters of common interests to the English-speaking countries in the ECOWAS.”
The President added that there was no denying that considerable amount of resources, time and effort had been expended in the pursuit of regional integration agenda.
He said this should be justified by achieving the objectives of the monetary union by 2020.
He stated, “Therefore, your gathering here is critical as we are barely 18 months to the target date for the introduction of the ECOWAS single currency.
“Members of council, as you discuss the progress towards the launch of a monetary union in the sub-region, you need to situate the issues within the global context and the challenges confronting existing monetary zones.