ECOWAS Parliament Pledges to address regional challenges
The Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is to deliberate on the draft Community Budget for the Community Institutions at its 2021 second ordinary session, which is taking place in Abuja, Nigeria.
The 2022 draft budget of the community is targeted at addressing the challenges facing the region.
The President of the Nigerian Senate, Ahmad Lawan, who declared the session open in Abuja, charged the regional parliamentarians to focus on the budget in addressing the issues of climate change, insecurity, trans-border crimes and banditry and ensure economic development of the region.
He said, “Our efforts to combat these crimes should not be limited to physical measures, but also the sharing of intelligence, coming from the processing of the information that applies to our nations”.
The session tagged, “Budget Session” provides the opportunity, in accordance with the provisions of the Supplementary Act of the ECOWAS Parliament, mandates the regional Parliament to specifically ensure that estimates are directed towards programmes that address the needs of the people.
The draft budget of the Parliament was presented in October in Winneba, Ghana, during its Second Extraordinary Session to consider and adopt the Parliament’s Draft 2022 budget.
The 20,401,258 Unit of Account budget aims to produce lasting effects in the region and prioritises activities that are of great benefits for the citizens of the Community.
The Speaker of the Parliament, Dr Sidie Mohammed Tunis, said in fulfilment of its statutory responsibility, parliamentarians are expected to render opinions, including where necessary, proposals for the amendment to the draft Community Budget.
Dr Tunis also assured that the composition of the regional parliament will ensure that they represent the people of the region and in turn give them a voice.
According to the ECOWAS Speaker, the current 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, he said, ECOWAS Parliament is expected to ensure that the estimates are directed towards programs that address the needs of the people.
He referred 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, Dr Tunis said “we are expected to render opinion, including where necessary, proposals for the amendment to the draft Community Budget.”
The Speaker added that ECOWAS Parliament will 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,” according to Dr Tunis.
“Peace in our region can only be consolidated and sustained if we bring development to the people.
Dr. Tunis noted that in the exercise of their oversight responsibility as enshrined in the supplementary Act, the Community Parliament will seek for greater accountability and transparency in the execution of the budget”.
The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean -Claude Kasi Brou, in his remark, called on the members of Parliament to examine the draft budget and take into account operational costs of the institutions.
Also, the President of ECOWAS Commission, Mr Kassi Brou, presented the state of the Community Report to the members of the ECOWAS Parliament as one of the major activities of the second ordinary session of the Parliament for 2021.