By Alieu Cessay
ABUJA, Nigeria – The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Alieu Touray, has expressed concern with the persistent rising public debt and inflation in Member States.
Touray made the remarks on Thursday while presenting the 2023 report on the state of the ECOWAS Community.
The report highlights, among other things, the macro-economic situation of the region and performance of the ECOWAS Institutions with regard to their 2023 work programmes and the regional integration and development agenda globally.
President Touray told Ecowas Parliamentarians that despite a difficult international environment and the slowdown in the global economies, most of the Member States have posted impressive economic growth.
“However, the continued inflation, deteriorating fiscal balance and mounting public debt have continued to erode the welfare and standard of living of the ECOWAS Citizens,” said Touray.
He went on to say that despite the numerous challenges faced by the ECOWAS Institutions, they have performed creditably well during the 2023 fiscal year.
“The period under review was characterized by the continuation of geopolitical conflicts, persistent inflationary pressures, and high and rising public debt as well as tightening of monetary policies in most regions,” Touray said.
Regarding the status of implementation of community work programs, President Touray said some notable results have been achieved.
On political stability, peace and security, the issues that dominated the attention of the Community during the year were the political transitions in the three Member States affected by coup d’état, namely Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso, the attempted coup in Niger Republic, terrorism in the Sahel and elections.
“At the level of deepening regional economic integration, significant progress has been made, including the establishment of the ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card (ENBIC) and the introduction of ECOVISA, a single visa system like that of Schengen,” Touray told the Parliament.
On the promotion of Common Market and private sector development in the region, the ECOWAS Regional Competition Authority (ERCA) is strengthening competition in the region.
In particular, it has carried out cross-border investigations, market studies, and formulated recommendations to combat anti-competitive practices, while offering technical and financial support to Member States to strengthen their national competition laws.
The presentation was followed by members’ reactions to the current state of affairs in the sub-region, with most emphasis on the latest coup attempt in Sierra Leone, which members hailed ECOWAS for deploying a mission to show solidarity with the people of Sierra Leone.
Members called for stringent actions to bring an end to any attempt of unconstitutional change of government.