The economic status of ordinary citizens of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) community as well as individual member states will improve when people and goods can move freely within states, the ECOWAS Parliament says.
Hon. Kebba Barrow, Chairman, Committee on Macroeconomics and Economic Policy Research, ECOWAS Parliament, made the assertion while fielding questions from journalists on the sidelines of the joint-committee delocalised meeting of the ECOWAS Parliament in Lome, Togo.
Barrow said that the free movement of people will aid the volume of businesses being done across the border in all member countries, thereby fostering the ECOWAS integration agenda.
He added that a consolidation of the Protocol would also help boost the economic capacity of an “ordinary” person in the communities as well as the economy.
“So, the protocol on free movement of people and goods is a very important protocol for us as parliamentarians because that is where activities of an ordinary citizen are taking place.
“We need to consolidate that and put it at the right perspective to ensure that all member countries are tied to the principal of the protocol, which would in no small measure improve the quality of life of an average citizen in our respective countries,” Barrow said.
Barrow said that the supplementary Act, which is the modalities that need to be followed up to look at other reports, including independent auditors report in the finances of the Commission, would ensure demonstration of good governance, transparency and accountability.
This, he also explained, would ensure that people in power carried out their responsibilities, and fulfil their mandates as enshrined in the protocol, and other procedures that the Parliament is empowered to do.
“We want to make sure that we get citizens informed on what the Parliament is doing on their behalf.
“The Joint Committee would look at what it has from the meeting, while other reports would be deliberated on at the level of the ECOWAS Parliament at plenary.
“And would look at the review and come out with an opinion in line with the Supplementary Act empowering and enhancing the capacity of the Parliament” he said.
On oversighting ECOWAS Commission institutions, Barrow said that meeting with staff of the Commission to discuss their various mandates, would give the Parliament an opportunity to know what works they are doing.
Barrow added that constant engagements between institutions of the community would help them understand their mandates especially in the area of properly representing the people.
“The information are showed at the level of our respective countries and we do one to one sensitisation meeting.
“So, this will help the ordinary citizen in our country to know what the Parliament is doing as an oversight institution of the ECOWAS Commission.
“We also put this as part of our activities on an annual basis, to have about six delocalised meetings on various skills, working around various institutions that are working at the Commission” he added.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the ECOWAS Joint Committee on Public Accounts, Administration, Finance and Budget, Macroeconomic Policies and Economic Research, Trade, Customs and Free Movement aims to strengthen the audit and accountability system of ECOWAS institutions.
The joint-delocalised meeting has the theme: “The modalities for the practical implementation of Articles 9 and 11 of the Supplementary Act of the Parliament in respect of the consideration of the Community Audit Reports’’.
The meeting is to enable Members (MPs) of the Joint Committee and other ECOWAS Institutions deliberate, better understand, and take ownership of the practical implementation of the said articles. (NAN)