The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has revealed that in 2023 massive resources would be dedicated towards combating the scourge of terrorism and political instability in West Africa.
Speaking at the opening of 32nd Meeting of the ECOWAS Administrative and Finance Committee (AFC) in Abuja on Monday, the President of ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray revealed that 2023 community budget will focus on action plans against terrorism, political stability among its four strategic objective plans.
Touray, in his speech 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 ECOWAS henchman also disclosed that the budget is designed to set the agenda for the next four years, which is aimed at putting the region back on track for regional integration.
He 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.”
He added that: “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.”
Touray said: “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.”
He also said 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, insisting that: “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.”
Touray said on the third strategic objective of Good Governance, the Community budget will focus on building stronger regimes against anti-constitutional change of government and support Member States to deepen democracy.
He noted that: “Here, our specific deliverables in the next four years will include; completing the transition to democracy in Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea. Enhancing our election support to Member states including observation mission.
“Strengthening ECOWAS Court and the ECOWAS Parliament to play their democratic roles. Instituting a broader mandate for intervention as a strong measure against anti-constitutional change of government.”
Touray disclosed that the fourth strategic objective is Inclusive and Sustainable Development which covers gender and social programmes, infrastructure and environment, revealing that: “In the next four years, we intend to invest in Food security, including further increase in the stock of our Regional Food Security Reserve.
“And the implementation of the ECOWAS rice Offensive Action Plan (2022-2025) to reduce our dependence on imports, as exposed by the Ukraine-Russia war.”
Declaring the meeting open, Chair of the AFC, Ms. Silva Cristina disclosed that the meeting is aimed at assessing the community budget to ensure that community resources and efficiently used for the betterment of ECOWAS citizens.
She said that: “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.”
She added that: “We are of the view that this exercise will only be easy if we look at it against the background of economic framework which ahs been strongly marred by the pandemic and also persistent non-enforcement of the protocol of the community levy on all product.
“Our community depends of the outcomes of the outcomes of this deliberation. That is why the honourable members of AFC have to make constructive and concrete contributions. Which will enable us to make progress and also ensure that the community resources are efficiently used.”