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05.04.2004 General News

Joint Committee of ECOWAS Parliament meets in Accra

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Accra, April 5, GNA - Members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) must be ready to sacrifice their sovereignty in order to achieve greater integration, Professor Ali Nouhoum Diallo, Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, said on Monday.

He was speaking at the opening in Accra of a weeklong meeting of the Joint Standing Committee on Economy Finance and Trade; Budget Control and Accounts of the ECOWAS Parliament.

The meeting is a forum for members of the Standing Committees, stakeholders and researchers in the Sub-Region to evaluate progress made in the vital economic categories identified for accelerated integration. Professor Diallo urged African leaders to conduct an appraisal of the various economic programmes underway to ensure that the policy direction was worth the effort and sacrifices of their peoples.

He said the strict economic guidelines identified should be adhered to closely to enable the various countries to meet the convergence criteria. Prof Diallo said the meeting was most important as issues of financial and economic issues fell on the very base of social justice and democracy, which the Sub-Region had been seeking for its peoples.

He said the support of the Parliamentarians in the ECOWAS Parliament was urgently needed to facilitate the community's integration process. Prof Diallo called for the setting up of political and economic entities that would work harmoniously with other international bodies and institutions for the strengthening and development of the ECOWAS. Senator Mamman Ali, Chairman of the Committee, said the meeting would address privatisation. "We are aware that privatisation is not an integration programme, but we are interested in knowing the main rationale behind privatisation programmes."

He said the ECOWAS Parliamentarians were interested in discussions on the aftermath of privatisation, particularly where it related to who purchased what company and for what purpose.

"It is necessary to avoid a situation whereby in the name of privatisation, foreign companies outside Africa are allowed to take over major economic activities in the Sub-Region, hence controlling the integration process," he said.

He said the continued dominance of government in all economic affairs was a major characteristic of under development. "It is only when we fully understand and appreciate these and many associated facts that we can come to terms with reality that economic policies have far reaching implications on political situation of any country."

Senator Ali said ECOWAS was expected to establish the second monetary zone by next year and Parliamentarians might want to know what advantages such a development might have on their people, particularly local traders. Dr Michael Ojo, Director-General of the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI), said a lot of progress had been made on the programme.

He said the fruitful collaboration between WAMI and the ECOWAS Parliament would be sustained until the objective of the common currency was actualised.

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