(Abuja, November 23, 2015): The 18th Meeting of the ECOWAS Administration and Finance Committee (AFC) started on Monday, November 23, 2015 at the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja.
The five-day event will review the annual budgets for the 2016 Fiscal Year for ECOWAS institutions ahead of the end-of-year statutory conferences: the Mediation and Security Council (December 13-14), Council of Ministers (December 15) and the Heads of State Summit(December 16-17).
A dispatch from the Liberian Embassy in Abuja quotes the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Ambassador KadréDésire Ouédraogo, as saying that the AFC meeting is intended to account for the performance in the execution of key tasks assigned to the ECOWAS Commissionand Community institutions for the 2015 Fiscal Year.
The other purpose of meeting is to brief stakeholdersabout progress made in 2015, and to present proposed plans and programs for the 2016 Fiscal Year.
According to the Abuja dispatch, Mr. Ouedraogo called on all Member States who are late in paying their levies to become compliant.
“This meeting also gives us the opportunity to once again remind Member States of their outstanding obligations to their Community, such as outstanding Community Levy Remittances”, he emphasized.
According to the ECOWAS Commission President, “This year-end meeting, even though basically a budget meeting, is also of special importance to the Community, as it is the end of the year that saw several major accomplishments. This is a review of the budgetary proposals for the coming year as well as review of various memoranda”.
He recounted the 2015 successes of the regional body to include the introduction of the ECOWAS Common Economic Tariff (CET), the 40th Anniversary of the creation of ECOWAS, change in the Chairmanship of ECOWAS, the successful holding of elections in Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Togo and Nigeria, resolution of the political crises in Guinea Bissau and Burkina Faso, and the drastic reduction in the Ebola epidemic in the sub-region.
Mr. Ouédraogo howeverreported that2015 has been a financially challenging year for the Commission. He said the Commission exercisedspecial efforts and sacrifices with a drastically reduced budget and serious liquidity problems.
“Of particular references are the funding several extraordinary meetings on the following issues: end of mandates of some statutory appointees, pre-election evaluation of situations in many countries concerned, political crisis in Burkina Faso, joint summit with Economic Community of Central African States on the Boko Haram menace, funding of peacekeeping operations in Guinea-Bissau and the extension of a peace operations in response to the leadership crisis”, he asserted.
He reminded participants that the AFC is one of the statutory organs that is the center of the integration process and therefore urged them to consider the agenda items before them with the usual wisdom and selfless interests that they have always demonstrated over the years.
“All our programs are of high importance to our citizens. It is therefore not the best to have to sacrifice some programs in order to meet others. As a committee of experts that embodies a wide range of the requisite technical skills, I have no doubt that you will once again live up to expectations”, Mr. Ouedraogo said.
He stated that despite challenges, the ECOWAS Commission and other institutions of the Community remained focused on the strict implementation of the decisions of the leaders of ECOWAS.
He then commended all Member States for their commitment towards the realization of the common objective of a single currency for the region.
The President also used his opening remarks to pay tribute insolidarity with the Governments and peoples of Mali, Nigeria and Cameroon, which have experienced recent terrorattacks, by asking for all participants to observe a moment of silence.
Earlier, the Chairman of the AFC, Jean Antione Diouf of Senegal, told participants that beyond the need for the smooth running of the Community’s institutions, theCommittee should also make relevant proposals to ensure effective governance in the sub-region.
“It is through efficient institutions that we can actually achieve moving ECOWAS from being a Community of States to a Community of People”, he added.