ECOWAS parliament decry Low Remittances of Community Levy
By Adoba Echono
Lawmakers of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament have attributed the causes of low remittance of community levy by member states to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, low import inflow, the effect of Covid-19 on the global economy leading to recession among other factors.
Speaking with Journalists at the ongoing 2nd Extra-Ordinary session of the ECOWAS Parliament seating in Lome, Togo a cross-section of Parliamentarians from different countries also blamed the development on negligence on the part of some member states.
Beginning with the Ghanaian Head of Delegation, Honourable Alexander Afenyo Markin, the current economic downturn experienced across regions is a major deterrence to remittance of levies.
“Without attempting to speculate, I should think that the recent downturn in business is a result of economic crisis leading to low import could be a factor, in the sense that now we are having this Ukraine- Russia war which came just after COVID obviously import have come down, it has reduced drastically, and this levies are imposed on import at our Ports so obviously.
“It could also be the slow pace at which member states transmit or transfer such levy as collected so we need that political will from the Commission, the Heads of States, or those responsible for this, and those coordinating to ensure that these levies as at when they are collected are transmitted to ECOWAS on time.
Speaking in the same light, Hon. Veronica Sesay from Sierra-Leon tied to the possible cause of countries non-remittance of levy to negligence.
“This could be out of negligence. We cannot move, we cannot succeed, even ECOWAS Parliament committees cannot come to Lome or go to Abuja without paying of levies, and that is why we are asking the other member states to pay their levies because it is sometimes unfair if others pay their levies on time then you benefit on time, so I don’t want to call it parasitic because we have to work together as a team” she said.
While Hon. Adjaratou Traore from Cote d’Ivoire said “without the community levy there will be no ECOWAS Parliament, there will be No ECOWAS Commission, every country need to contribute, we have to make sure our government take this issue very seriously to make the operation of the regional body smooth, so all Member States have to work hard on it”
Similarly, Nigerian parliamentarian, Senator Smart Adeyemi said “There is a global economic recession now, I think as the economy improves maybe next year, some of these West African Countries will be able to meet up their obligation to the ECOWAS Parliament.
Honourable Siryon from Liberia added “the pandemic came in and interrupted countries economic plans, I feel that is the reason why some of them have not been able to pay, no matter what, they have to pay, if they have problems, they have to come to us, they have to come and let ECOWAS know the problem, they put the Act together, they sign it and I believe that they will pay” she said.
Canvassing the way forward the Parliamentarians call for mechanism to be put in place to fast track payment by making sure that such funds come to the Commissions by the use of technology adding that, bureaucracy of collection and transmitting should be eliminated by creating a network which will automatically ensure that ECOWAS and other institutions receive their payment directly from the Member States once charges are made in their Ports.
That according to the will be one way of resolving that issue of non-remittance of community levy.
“There will be no excuses as to what the Member States have collected and refused or delayed. It is these levies that are used for capacity building, for all activities, for stability and for work to progress, and also for salaries of workers, our community institutions depend on this levy, that is our only source of income and funding for our activities as a Sub-Region, for me, it is a key thing that must be considered”.