The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has urged member states of the West African Monetary Zone to undertake meaningful reforms to achieve the convergence criteria to avoid the vicious cycle of endless postponements.
He also called on them to take ownership of the convergence programme by mainstreaming it into their national macroeconomic frameworks.
Dr Bawumia, who made the call at the closing of the mid-year statutory meeting of the West Africa Monetary Agency (WAMA), West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM) and the West Africa Monetary Institute (WAMI) in Accra last Friday, said the inability of the member states to improve upon and sustain performances on the convergence criteria was one of the key challenges of the WAMZ member states, as no member state had met all four primary convergence criteria as of December 2022 and June 2023.
The 50th meeting of the convergence council of ministers and governors of central banks of member states of the WAMZ was attended by ministers of finance and governors of the central banks of the respective countries.
It was hosted by the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Ghana to review the performance of the member states on the implementation of the roadmap activities for the ECOWAS single currency programme, achievements made, challenges encountered and the way forward.
“While we remain determined to meet the prerequisites for the formation of a monetary union in ECOWAS”, Dr Bawumia said “our economies continue to face challenges from both internal and external shocks.
He was, however, hopeful that the meeting would proffer actionable recommendations for the achievement of a monetary union in ECOWAS.
He, therefore, stressed the need for member states to double their efforts at ensuring macroeconomic convergence and stability which he said were the necessary conditions for the take-off of a monetary union.
“I have been informed that WAMI, with the financial support of the African Development Bank in the amount of US$9million, will soon launch the Unique Bank Identity (UBI) Project, intended to ensure bank customer identification and secure digital banking transactions,” he said.
He said a model legislative instrument had been drafted for adoption by the member states to meet the regulatory needs of the emerging financial technological innovations in a globally interconnected financial ecosystem.
Additionally, he said, significant strides had also been made in debt and capital market integration as well as insurance integration in the WAMZ.
Focusing on Ghana, he said: “We in Ghana are committed to restoring macroeconomic stability that forms the basis of sustainable economic growth and development.”
The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, said on the regional front, growth in the WAMZ was estimated at 3.3 per cent in 2022 against 3.9 per cent in 2021, while it slowed down in the WAEMU to 5.9 per cent in 2022, from 6.1 per cent in 2021.
Additionally, he said, the aggregate fiscal deficit increased to 5.2 per cent of GDP in 2022 from 4.5 per cent in 2021 with the stock of public debt in the WAMZ region rising to 30.3 per cent of GDP at end-December 2022, from 30 per cent of GDP at end-December 2021.