Tayo Busayo, Abuja
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has framed its 2023 community budget on action plans to tackle terrorism and ensure political stability for regional integration.
President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray, made this known during the opening of 32nd Meeting of the ECOWAS Administrative and Finance Committee (AFC) in Abuja on Monday, stressing that the budget was tailored to meet its four strategic objectives.
Touray said that the 2023 Community budget of “Consolidation and Reforms” is prepared to ensure the consolidation of the gains made in the institutional reform process and support the region’s recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Ukraine-Russia War.
The Community Budget, which was designed to set the agenda for the next four years, is aimed at bringing peace and development to the region and improving the agriculture potential of the region.
Touray said, “It is in view of the foregoing issues that we quickly identified four strategic objectives that would be our focus for the next four years which we called the 4 by 4 (4x).
“These four objectives are; Enhanced peace and security, Deeper Regional Integration, Good Governance, Inclusive and Sustained Development.
“In addition to these four strategic objectives, we have identified two enablers’ namely capable institutions and equitable partnerships, which would facilitate the realization of our objectives.
“Let me quickly add that our four strategic objectives are already aligned with the Community Strategic Framework (CSF), which has been developed for the realization of the ECOWAS Vision 2050.
“We intend to focus on strengthening the ECOWAS Peace and Security Architecture and achieving results related to;
“The Implementation Plan against Terrorism (on this we would like to invite you to support us with the full realization of the one billion dollars Pool Fund which our Members pledged.
“The full operationalization of the ECOWAS Maritime security Architecture, the full operationalization of the National Early Warning and Response Centers, Building the mediation and rapid response capacity of ECOWAS.”
Touray said further that the second strategic objective is to deepen Regional Integration through the promotion and enhancement of intra-community trade, free movement of people, and the monetary Union.
“Specific deliverables for the next four years under this pillar will include; reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers (through the effective deployment of the ETLS Task Force).
“Full operationalization of the regional payment system, introduction of ECO-Visa, implementation to concrete border projects under the ECOWAS Cross Border Programme, among others,” he added.
On the third strategic objective of Good Governance, the ECOWAS Commission President said the Community budget will focus on building stronger regimes against anti-constitutional change of government and support Member States to deepen democracy.
This was aimed at averting future undemocratic takeover of government through coups as it happened in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea.
Chair of the AFC, Ms Silva Cristina, who declared the meeting open, said it is aimed at assessing the community budget to ensure that community resources are properly utilised for the good of ECOWAS citizens.
“The main objective of this year-end meeting is to consider and validate our budget, it is also to ensure the technical and financial monitoring of the year under review, 2022 budget.
“And our work will be to ensure that the strategic objectives of the community are being met. We are invited to look at the medium-term expenditure frame-work, 2023 to 2025.
“We are of the view that this exercise will only be easy if we look at it against the background of the economic framework which has been strongly marred by the pandemic and also persistent non-enforcement of the protocol of the community levy on all products,” Cristina stated.