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ECOWAS budgets should reflect priorities of sub-region – Speaker

“This session, otherwise known as the ‘Budget Session’, provides the opportunity, in accordance with provisions of the Supplementary Act, for parliament to consider the community’s budget.

By Lizzy Okoji

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament said on Tuesday it would ensure that the 2022 budgets of ECOWAS institutions captured the priorities of the sub-region.

Speaker of the parliament, Dr Sidie Tunis, said this in Abuja at the opening of the sub-regional legislative body’s 2021 Ordinary Session, which focuses on the examination and adoption of the 2022 budget of the Community.

Tunis said the parliament would be expected to listen to the draft budget presentations by ECOWAS institutions, give its opinion, and make proposals and amendments where necessary,

He added that the parliament would ensure that the budgets captured the promotion of democracy, rule of law, peace and conflict resolution, the fight against terrorism, poverty reduction, and climate change.

“This session, otherwise known as the ‘Budget Session’, provides the opportunity, in accordance with provisions of the Supplementary Act, for parliament to consider the community’s budget.

“Specifically, the parliament is expected to ensure that the estimates are directed towards programmes that address the needs of the people.

“Here, I make specific reference to Article 17.2a, which states that after the consideration of the Budget by the Administration and Finance Committee (AFC).

“The report of the AFC on the budget shall be presented to parliament during the Parliamentary Budget Session.

“In fulfilment of this statutory responsibility, we are expected to render opinion, including where necessary, proposals for the amendment to the draft community budget.

“As we position ourselves to perform this sacred task, I expect that we will translate the vision with which we approach this exercise into goals that are consistent with regional and global dynamics.

“Included in this process should be the formulation of the policy framework and identification of the sequential measures of structural change that need to be taken to achieve the overarching goals of sustainable growth and development.

“We should ensure that allocation of resources reflects real priorities. It is also not enough that the budget surmounts the immediate threats brought upon us by COVID-19.

“It should also advance efforts to make progress on other fronts and priorities, which our region continues to value: democracy, rule of law, peace and conflict resolution, the fight against terrorism, poverty reduction and climate change,” Tunis said.

He added that the peace in the ECOWAS sub-region could only be consolidated and sustained when development “is brought to the people”, hence the need for greater accountability and transparency in the execution of the budget.

Speaking, Mr Jean-Claude BROU, President of the ECOWAS Commission described the extraordinary session of the parliament as critical to the administration of the community’s activities.

BROU stated that it is also important especially at a time when there is great attention to ensure the judicious use of resources in all ECOWAS institutions.

According to him, the ECOWAS Commission will be available to shed more light on its draft budget when called upon.

“It is important this Extraordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament which will examine the reports of the Administration and Finance Committee (AFC),

“You will be called to examine the draft budget of the community institutions, taking accounts the reforms of the institution and reduction of costs of all Institutions.

“The drafts budget are also been presented at a time of great attention to ensuring the judicious use of resources.

‘’The commission will be available to shed more light on whatever questions you seek,” BROU said. (NAN)