By Lizzy Okoji
Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Mohamed Tunis has pleaded for prompt payment of Community Levy by Member States to finance projects across the sub-region.
Tunis made the call during the closing of the three-day seminar organised as part of activities of the first physical Extraordinary Session of the Parliament’s fifth legislature in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
The Public Relations Department of the ECOWAS Parliament disclosed this in a statement on Friday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the three-day seminar which will be followed by the Extraordinary Session proper was held from March 23 to March 25.
Describing the seminar as successful, Tunis said the ECOWAS Parliament have adopted several recommendations aimed at improving and collecting arrears of contributions by Member States regarding the Community Levy.
Tunis said the involvement of ECOWAS Members of Parliament in monitoring the implementation of the Protocol on the Community Levy was unanimously adopted.
According to him, the aforesaid levy is intended to generate much needed revenue in order to enable ECOWAS to sufficiently finance its institutions and projects targeted at fostering the integration process.
Tunis added that payment of the levy by Member States would also help by improving the socio-economic livelihoods of the people in the sub-region.
“As you all are aware, the seminar has been educative, inspiring and enriching. The benefits acquired form the deliberations over the past few days are enormous.
“And we are happy that the seminar has achieved the objectives for which it was organized.
“Most importantly, we witnessed the fullest cooperation of Honorable Members of the ECOWAS Parliament, who would agree with me that this seminar has broaden our perspectives on the general overview of the community levy and status of its implementation.
“It was also a forum in which we were presented the status of collection of the community levy, contribution arrears of Member States.
“As well as the prospect of the ECOWAS Community Levy in the face of issues related to the EPAs and the AFCFTA.
“We must be honest that we will face many challenges in implementing the commitments we have made, as some of our countries are in severe economic crisis and some are still focused on tackling other pressing challenges.
“Nevertheless, with a concerted effort we can succeed in getting our States to honor the protocols and declarations we have signed up to.
Tunis said the ECOWAS Parliament stands prepared to follow up on the recommendations emanating from the discussions.
He also pledged the support of the Parliament to the Commission and other Institutions in ways that guarantee robust actions, aimed at mobilizing all member states to fulfill their obligations to the community.
“We take due cognizant of the fact that these resources are germane to the successful implementation of the community programs and projects.
“And it is my expectation that every member of the Parliament will make a genuine commitment to this cause”, Tunis added.
Tunis appreciated the experts for their highly educative and enlightening presentations which have provided important insights that are expected to lead to forward-thinking actions.
According to the statement, also on the conclusion and recommendations adopted included the challenges arising from COVID-19 and how it has impacted mobilization rate negatively to about 30 per cent over the past two years.
Members of Parliament however took cognizant of the need to mobilize resources required to finance the Community Budget, hence the urgent need for each national delegation to be involved in the effective implementation relating to the Protocol.
“Members of ECOWAS Parliament who are nationals of Member States were urged to capitalize on the provision of the rules of procedure at the national level to engage the Ministries in charge of Community Levy.
“In order to discuss not only recoveries, but also effective implementation of the said protocol; raising awareness and advocacy should be undertaken by Members of ECOWAS Parliament in their respective States.”
The issues around sanctions for non-compliance are however left to be determined by the Authority of Heads of State and Government.
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