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18.01.2005 Business & Finance

ECOWAS Ministers Express Concern About High Inflation

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Accra, Jan. 18, GNA - The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Council of Ministers ended their two-day meeting on Tuesday, expressing concern about the high inflation and fiscal dominance in member countries, a trend which they said was making it difficult for countries to meet the convergence criteria.

The Ministers, therefore, recommended more resilient efforts of members aimed at achieving sustainable fiscal positions. Dr Adrienne Diop, ECOWAS Director of Communication, who briefed the press on the outcome of the two-day meeting, said the Ministers also agreed that a minimum of capital account liberalization was necessary to facilitate trade and establish a common market before monetary integration.

The meeting also recommended the restructuring of the West African Monetary Agency (WAMA) in line with current realities to enable it to contribute better to the integration process.

The Council further agreed that in order to enhance trade development within the Sub-Region, member states must effectively implement the Trade Liberalisation Scheme.

Dr Diop said the meting also adopted the revised Master Plan for the Development of Electricity Generation and Transmission. The Master Plan included the establishment of a Regional Electricity Sector Regulation Programme.

She said regional regulation was expected to increase power trading, reduce the cost of generation and facilitate participation by private capital.

In the Telecommunications Sector, the Council endorsed the roadmap for the implementation of the Regional Roaming of GSM in countries in the Sub-Region as well as the implementation of the harmonized model for the establishment of a liberalized telecommunications market in West Africa. Among the priority programmes slated for 2005 is the introductions of a common external tariff that would lead to the creation of a Customs Union, a prerequisite for concluding a Regional Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union.

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