President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger has called on the Fifth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament to encourage their various state governments to adopt micro economic policies that would lead to the attainment of convergence criteria for the takeoff of the Eco currency for the region.
Speaking at the inauguration of the Fifth Parliament in Niamey, the Nigerien capital, on Monday, the president described the adoption of a single currency as a major project of the community.
The West African Monetary institution had spelt out ten convergence criteria to be met by each member state for the implementation of a single currency, tagged ECO, which was finally agreed by the Heads of States and Governments of the regional body to be introduced by the year 2020.
Some of the primary criteria for each member state to achieve include achieving a single -digit inflation rate at the end of each year for at least three years, a fiscal deficit of no more than four percent of the GDP, a central bank deficit financing of not more than 10 percent of the previous year’s tax revenues, gross external reserves that can give import cover for a minimum of three months.
Issoufou said his country, Niger, had achieved all the criteria and ready for the launch of the currency this year.
“Our people want this single currency because it helps their interest in particular to support the growth of the economy of our state, supporting inter-ECOWAS commerce and trade that will grow the promotion of roads, infrastructure, railways, power and so many other projects that will make it possible for our region to contribute to the 2053 agenda and especially the continental free trade area,” he said.
He stressed that both the national and ECOWAS parliaments have a role to play in the realization of the projects that would transform not only ECOWAS region but the continent as a whole.
President Issoufou, who is also the Chairman of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and government, urged the need to further enhance the power of the ECOWAS parliament by practising direct universal suffrage.
“You are the representatives of sovereign people, you are the sole incarnation of the souls of our nations. To strengthen your role within the ECOWAS region, we should fast-track your designation to direct universal suffrage. This will make it possible for the regional parliament to further enhance its powers. Already the ECOWAS parliament represents the assembly of people in our community. It has the responsibility of adopting laws and regulations for the community. This legislative community work will contribute to the creation of an integrated region that lives in prosperity build on good governance,” he said.
He lauded the Fourth Legislature and its speaker Moustapha Cisse -Lo for the promotion of national integration through dialogue, consultations and consensus. He said they played an active role in the process of decision making in the community relating to issues of peace, security democracy and human rights as well as having cordial relations with other institutions of the community.
This, he said, has made it possible for them to record important achievements notable among them were the adoption of the resolutions on various sectors of the integration process, sensitizing of the community on key issues such as irregular migration, inter-community conflicts, free movement of persons, goods and services.
He therefore urged the fifth legislature to build on the achievements of their predecessors.