March 26, 2021

As the debate on how to effectively collect the ECOWAS Levy rages on, a member of Ghana’s representative to the Community Parliament, Clement Kofi Humado, has said Authority of Heads of States and the Council of Ministers can ensure effective collection of the levy.

According to him it would be difficult for the Community Parliament to enforce penalties against countries that default, as the Parliament meeting in Sierra Leon discuss ways of ensuring effective collection of the levy.

Speaking in an interview, he noted that the Authority of Heads of States and the Council of Ministers are the ones who are managing the budget proposing from the various countries, “Parliament is there to see how the budget is being prepared and implemented”.

“So it depends on the commitment of each heads of state, for example Niger is a poor country but because their President was serious on the levy, he even increased his rate from 0.5 percent to 1 percent and right now according to the statistics, Niger has over paid and they are having credit in their account with ECOWAS Commission”.

He further noted that in the case of Nigeria, the money is collected alright then they go and put the money in an escrow account, and he is sure an account which is generating interest and at the end of one year they come and pay the principal.

“Where does interest go, and retain for what and for who, I think it is a little bit unfair and there are countries which are not applying the 0.5 percent on all the commodities imported from third countries?”

 Again, another country like Liberia, he understand they do not apply the levy on the importation of rice as the claim is it is a poor man’s food. The UAMOA countries, the Sahel countries they do not apply it on the importation of fuel and petroleum products and all these are calculated against them so it is up to the Heads of States.

“If we are serious and believe in the objectives of the regional integration and you believe money is needed to run the ECOWAS Commission and its related agencies, then you have to take measure to do that”.

He further pointed out that the Community Parliament is thinking of calling Minister of Finance to come to the floor and answer questions on how the ECOWAS levies had been collected, paid, and just before Country reports are prepared and delivered in Abuja, questions can be asked.

“I do not know what else we can do. Another thing that the ECOWAS Commission can do is to look at the budget, because we are only collecting thirty percent of the funds, and so far seventy percent of the activities of ECOWAS activities are not being undertaken”

And called for a second look at some duplication in the budget of some ECOWAS institutions, especially, Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa GIABA because in their budget they repeat most of the things being done by member states.

For example, Ghana has budget for anti-terrorism and money laundry, “so why is GIABA repeating same thing in their budget? So we need to look at the budget and trim come components.”

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/