(LINA) – One main issue agreed by heads of state and government of the Economic Community of West African States at the just-ended 55th Ordinary Session in Abuja, Nigeria, is the circulation of a single currency, named ‘ECO,’ within the bloc.
The regional monetary policy is due to take effect in 2020, according to the agreed terms in Abuja, but the Liberian government says it will subscribe to the use of “ECO” sometime in the future and not as generally decided at the ordinary session.
Addressing reporters Tuesday upon the return of President George Weah from Nigeria, Deputy presidential press secretary Smith Toby said Liberia was still doing its homework like other nations who have delayed joining the prospective ECO regime for various reasons.
“Liberia is not there yet in terms of [our] monetary policy. Some other countries in the West African region, not just Liberia, still have not met the benchmarks for the single currency use and they will not get started,” said Toby.
Now, other member states, especially whose economies are strong enough to jump into large common system, obviously would be the first batch to begin the use of the regional bloc’s long-talked-about unified currency regime.
The Executive Mansion attributed its decision to hold back a little bit from the ‘one money system’ due to shrinking state of the Liberian economy as a result of “unprecedented” shocks such as the low prices of Liberia’s primary export commodities on the world market, the fall out of the Ebola virus in 2014, and the economic void placed by the drawdown of the United Nations peacekeeping mission, and low agricultural productivity.
Commentators say inability of the country to generate more foreign exchange has been causing the Liberian dollar to sharply fall against the United States dollar in exchange, as the rate currently stands at 200 to 1, causing inflation.
Notwithstanding, the government said it was working around the clock on factors that would stabilize the economy, urging the population to exercise some degree of patience as some of the methods would not show immediate results for a system that needs real fixing.
In May, Finance Minister Samuel Tweah told a news conference at the Ministry of Information that the government was contemplating on demonetizing the economy for a new currency, and that consultations were still taking place at different levels.
The latest position indicating that the government was not yet prepared to subscribe to the ECO currency suggests that the Technical Economic Management Team (TEMT) set up by President Weah had warned the government to buy more time until it had sorted out its in-house challenges.
In the meantime, leaders of ECOWAS member states, at the 2019 summit, discussed other issues deemed vital to the prosperity of the region such as security, cross-border trade and regional integration, conflict prevention and resolution in troubled nations in the bloc, as well as upcoming national elections.