Abuja, Dec. 7, 2023 (NAN) The ECOWAS Commission on Thursday notified member states of the need for effective mobilisation of their levies to enable it to properly carry out its duties and tackle the growing challenges confronting the communities within the sub-region.
ECOWAS President Dr Omar Touray made the plea at the 91st Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers in Abuja.
Touray described the levy as the lifeline of the institutions under the commission, saying collection of the fees had been a challenge.
“The amount of 0.5 per cent ECOWAS levy on imports from outside the community has been collected by member states on behalf of ECOWAS.
“However, the deposit of these funds into the ECOWAS bank accounts at the country level and access to the funds has been a challenge.
“This has led to low resource mobilisation,’’ he said.
He noted that the situation is more critical now that the member states under sanctions have stopped remitting their contributions.
Touray observed that the financial situation of the commission is getting more difficult as the tasks for ECOWAS are growing.
He said the increasing security challenges, humanitarian crises, political instability, and the demands of socio-economic development required huge resources to tackle and address.
“We need your support in mobilising the levy fully to be able to implement our community work programme and keep up with the successes of ECOWAS,’’ he added.
The president of the commission, however, pointed out that despite some challenges and setbacks the commission has continued to make progress in its regions.
“We have continued to work towards the realisation of our 4×4 strategic objectives, namely: the enhancement of regional peace and security; deepening regional integration; promotion of good governance; and fostering inclusive and sustainable development,’’ Touray said.
“Others are the peaceful elections we have had in Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.’
“I would not want to dwell on the vital role that ECOWAS has played in these elections, however it shows that democracy is alive in the ECOWAS region and that change is possible through peaceful means.
“These elections and those before it have also shattered the narrative that political change in Africa is possible only through military coups,’’ he stated.
According to him, more work needs to be done to enhance the electoral process by continuing to work on deepening democracy, promoting fair and transparent elections, good governance, and the rule of law.
Concerning the economic integration of the sub-region, Touray said the commission had made appreciable progress in the development of the sub-regional infrastructure needed, as well as the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers.
He stated that the commission has a regional action plan against terrorism to implement, peacekeeping missions to sustain, and transitions in member states under military rule to support numerous socio-economic and humanitarian problems waiting to be tackled.
He acknowledged the existence of member communities with large populations of forcibly displaced persons and millions more facing food and nutrition crises.
He said the figures published by the UNHCR as of September 2023, put the number of forcibly displaced population at 6,976,470, with 6,352,346 as internally displaced persons while 624,124 are refugees and asylum seekers.