By Odimmegwa Johnpeter
The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Parliament has adopted the report and recommendations for the ECOWAS Commission’s consolidated budget of UA418,072,408 for the year 2023.
The Administration and Finance Committee (AFC) of the ECOWAS Commission has earlier presented for the Parliament’s consideration, a draft budget of Four Hundred and Twenty-Seven Million Units of Account (UA 427,979,594) for 2023.
The Chairperson of the AFC, Cristina Pedreira who had presented the budget before the Parliament said the Committee came up with the draft budget and recommendations sequel to the 32nd Meeting of the AFC which was held from November 14 – 21, 2022.
The AFC report indicates a general appeal to member states to comply with the provisions of the ECOWAS Community Levy protocol to avoid the imposition of the stipulated sanctions.
This led to Parliamentarians condemning the lackadaisical attitude of some member states with regard to non-payment of community levies, which main source of funding the budget.
The parliamentarians denounced the attitude of certain countries which have not made any repayments since the beginning of this year 2022.
Parliamentarians expressed surprise that Member States like Burkina-Faso and Guinea are up to date with their dues while these countries are experiencing a military-political crisis that is disrupting their economies.
They said countries that enjoy political and institutional stability were unable to honor their commitments to the community by paying back the community taxes that have been levied.
Some Lawmakers of the Community Parliament have faulted the process for the adoption of the 2023 Community budget.
They said the budget showed less focus on community citizens.
Peace And Security
The Lawmakers expressed their misgivings on the adoption of the 2023 Community Budget of 418,072,408 Units of Account (UA) by the Parliament.
While the budgetary allocation for Peace and Security, a critical challenge of the region was pegged at 21,839,788, ECOWAS Institutions were allocated 366,254,680 for administration and salaries.
Nigerian Lawmaker, Awaji-Inombek Abiante said that the Parliament should have been given more time to understand the budget and play its own role as advised by President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria during the opening of the Session before adopting it.
Honourable Abiante, a member of the Nigerian House of Representatives, said that the ECOWAS Parliament must act beyond just an advisory role, and the right things must be done so that community citizens can feel the impact.
“If you ask me, we would have done a little more. But going forward, I think Parliament has established that there is a need to do a detailed understanding of the budget, especially with the budget performance.
“So, going forward, we have to look at budget performance in detail and where necessary we must invite heads of the various ECOWAS Institutions to account for what they have been spending.
“It does not have to be business as usual especially when our President, Muhammadu Buhari told us at the opening that we should be diligent, detailed, and transparent in what we do, especially with the budget.
“Going forward, we have to ask more questions. The argument is this is done, it must not be this is how it is done, but what is the right thing to be done? It is only by so doing we will be able to hold officials accountable for what they are doing and we will be responsible to the citizens.
“If we continue to say Parliament is just advisory then we will not be able to go beyond where we are and make members of the community have an impact on what we are doing,” Abiante said.
Billay Tunkara, Member of Parliament from the Gambia lamented the limited powers of the Parliament to scrutinise the budget before adopting it, stressing the need for enhanced power of the ECOWAS Parliament.
Also, Mahama Ayariga, a Member of Parliament from Ghana noted that it was not the sole responsibility of ECOWAS Institutions to provide development projects and security to Member States but only to support them.
“Well, honestly, I do not think that there is anything particularly different about this budget,” he explained.
The 2022 Second Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament which commenced on the 28th of November 2022 will end on December 18, 2022.
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