May 8, 2020

Former rapporteur of the Finance Committee of the fourth Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS),  Fredrick Opare-Ansah has called for a   second look at the mode of funding Community Institutions.

According to him levy on imports outside member states is not the way to go as COVID-19 has only precipitated the inevitable as the Community was going to get there one day.

He made this remark when wanted to know if levy on imports outside member states to fund ECOWAS Institution was sustainable in the wake of the novel COVID-19 pandemic affecting economic activities and economies in the sub-region.

“All of a sudden you do not have a lot of imports coming in since a lot of the member states are looking inward in their own economies.  Previously, Ghana was importing sanitizers, facemask, suddenly, we find out that we can manufacture them locally. Where hitheto, previously we would have been getting revenue from all these items, they are cut off; it’s about time that ECOWAS takes a second look at this particular issue”, he stated .

The immediate past member of the Ghanaian delegation to the Community Parliament Mr.  Opare-Ansah further pointed out   that he had always held the view that the mode of funding ECOWAS Institution is self-defeating.

And added that the primary objective of ECOWAS before it became ECOWAS of the people was to have an economic integration to promote trade among member states.

“It means there would be a consequential reduction in the overall import into the sub-region but ECOWAS funding itself from levies that build up to member states through external imports ECOWAS. So, it stands to reason that as ECOWAS improve on its objective and the integration process gets deeper and depend”.

There are more economic activities among member states leading to more trading among them, consequentially, there are going to be decrease in imports outside the region, and would decrease in revenue to ECOWAS.

Mr. Opare-Ansah further pointed that levies would no longer be available for the member states to collect on behalf of ECOWAS.

Whiles as a member of the Community Parliament, chairman of Ghana’s Communications Committee noted that as the integration process increased he thought telecommunications was the best option to focus on to get levy to fund ECOWAS.

Again, with an ECOWAS of the people where there would be free movement of people and having the right of residence, more people would move from one member state to the other, people were going to communicate with their families back home, hence the need for telecommunications across the borders of ECOWAS with an economic integration and population integration increase there was going to be consequential increase in telecommunication service.

“When we were discussing the issue of free roaming in ECOWAS I thought that would have been the time to attach some little levy to the service, so that as we fight for operators to give free roaming to our people we would ask them to pay a little token as levy to the Community Institutions to enable it function”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/