ECOWAS Council reaffirms name of sub-regional currency

  Lagos- Nigeria (PANA) -- The Convergence Council for ECOWAS second Monetary Zone, has reaffirmed "ECO" as the name of the proposed single currency, to be adopted by the sub-region in 2004.
An ECOWAS statement said the reaffirmation was made at a two-day meeting of the Council, which ended in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Friday.
The proposal was originally made at a meeting in Dakar, Senegal, in December 2001 and the Council's reaffirmation would be submitted to a meeting of officials of the zone, later this year, with those of the CFA francs zone.
A name agreed by the officials, and subsequently endorsed by the heads of State, will be used for the single currency for the five-member States of the zone --Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone-- which agreed in 2000 to launch a second currency, parallel to the CFA in 2003.
At their third Summit in Dakar in December 2001, Heads of State of the five countries deferred a decision on the naming of the currency for the zone, and directed officials of the two zones to meet and agree a name that will also apply to the common currency due in 2004.
Meanwhile, the Council, which comprises Governors of Central Bank and Ministers responsible for Finance, Trade, Foreign Affairs and ECOWAS Affairs, in the States of the zone, has noted that none of the countries satisfied the four convergent criteria, and urged them to ensure compliance.
Under the criteria, States within the zone are required to commit themselves to a progressive reduction of inflation to less than five percent by 2002; budgetary discipline, a reduction in inflationary financing by the Central Banks and a healthy reserve position.
The Freetown meeting, the seventh by the Council, also urged members to develop country programmes for compliance with the support of the Accra-based West African Monetary Institute (WAMI).
It directed WAMI to develop a contingency plan in case none of the countries satisfy the criteria by the December 2002 deadline.
Members of the Council also recommended that WAMI propose amendments to the statutes of the proposed West African Central Bank (WACB) that will make existing national Central Banks, branches of the WACB.
They noted the request of three of the States --Ghana, Guinea and Nigeria-- to host the headquarters of the Bank.
The Council also agreed that Heads of State of the zone should appoint the President, Vice-President and other members of the Board of the Bank, who will subsequently recruit staff, while a delegation should be dispatched to Liberia and Cape Verde to encourage them to formalise their membership of the zone.
Liberia, which attended some of the meeting of the zone, indicated interest, but has not signed the Accra Declaration of 2000 formalising membership, while Cape Verde had attended some meetings of the zone as an observer.

12 april 2002 18:21:00

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