The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has defined its 2023 community budget on action plans to combat terrorism and ensure political stability for regional integration.
The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray, made this known during the opening of the 32nd meeting of the ECOWAS Administrative and Financial Committee (CAF) in Abuja on Monday, stressing that the budget was adapted to respond to its four strategic objectives.
Touray said that the 2023 community budget of “Consolidation and reforms” is prepared to ensure the consolidation of the achievements of 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, aims to bring peace and development to the region and to improve the region’s agricultural potential.
Touray said: “It was in view of the previous challenges that we quickly identified four strategic objectives that would be our priority for the next four years which we called the 4 by 4 (4x).
“These four goals are; Strengthened peace and security, deeper regional integration, good governance, inclusive and sustainable development.
“In addition to these four strategic objectives, we have identified two enablers, namely competent institutions and equitable partnerships, which would facilitate the achievement of our objectives.
“Let me quickly add that our four strategic objectives are already aligned with the Community Strategic Framework (CSF), which was developed for the realization of the ECOWAS Vision 2050.
“We intend to focus on strengthening the ECOWAS peace and security architecture and delivering results related to;
“The Counter-Terrorism Implementation Plan (on this, we would like to invite you to support us in the full realization of the one billion dollar common fund to which our members have committed.
“The full operationalization of the ECOWAS maritime security architecture, the full operationalization of the national early warning and response centers, the strengthening of the mediation and rapid response capacity of ECOWAS.”
Touray added that the second strategic objective is to deepen regional integration through the promotion and strengthening of intra-community trade, free movement of people and monetary union.
“Specific deliverables for the next four years under this pillar will include; reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers (thanks to the effective deployment of the ETLS Task Force).
“Full operationalization of the regional payment system, introduction of ECO-Visa, implementation of concrete border projects under the ECOWAS cross-border program, among others,” he added.
Regarding the third strategic objective of good governance, the President of the ECOWAS Commission said that the community budget will focus on building stronger regimes against unconstitutional changes of government and support member states to deepen democracy.
This was intended to prevent future undemocratic takeover of government through coups, as happened in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea.
AFC President, Ms. Silva Cristina, who declared the meeting open, said it aimed to assess the community budget to ensure that community resources are properly used for the benefit of ECOWAS citizens.
“The main objective of this end-of-year meeting is to examine and validate our budget, it is also to ensure the technical and financial monitoring of the year under review, budget 2022.
“And our job will be to ensure that the strategic goals of the community are achieved. We are invited to look at the medium-term expenditure framework, 2023 to 2025.
“We are of the opinion that this exercise will only be easy if we place it in the context of an economic framework strongly marked by the pandemic and also of the persistent non-application of the protocol of the community levy on all products,” Cristina said.