Entrepreneurs decry non-implementation of ECOWAS protocols

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- The president of the African Business Roundtable (ABR), Bamanga Tukur, has urged ECOWAS member countries to implement the community's protocols designed to promote trade and economic development.
"What good are protocols and declarations for free trade if these instruments are not implemented but remain mere documents for historians to read," he asked ECOWAS leaders at the opening of their 25th Summit in Dakar Thursday.
Bamanga said "our nations are being de-industrialised as the manufacturing sectors die under the yoke of high production costs, institutional failures and increased bureaucracy.
" He noted the lack of genuine partnership between government as represented by the civil service and the business community, saying that factors hindering the implementation of the protocols included civil servants in member countries, particularly the customs and police, whom he accused of resisting the moves because, "they see free and efficient trade as a loss of their income.
" "We need a serious change of mind and attitudes to help the civil servants to buy into the vision of the African Union and the ECOWAS dreams as well as other integration initiatives," the ABR president said.
He also explained that private sector operators were ignorant of most of the protocols and measures that affect them because of the dearth of information on goods that fall under various tariff regimes.
According to Bamanga, economic integration is about the flow of goods and services among nations, but he also noted the lack of trust between business communities of the various countries.
He warned that unless there was a vibrant private sector, economic integration would remain a dream.
To solidify the relationship between the ECOWAS and the ABR, Bamanga proposed some joint activities including the establishment of a private sector consultative group for the ECOWAS secretariat to serve as regular sounding board for new policy initiatives.
He also proposed the organisation of a joint conference on trade facilitation in the ECOWAS region to bring together the manufacturers associations, the private sector representatives as well as key custom representatives and other stakeholders to address issues related to removing barriers to cross-border trade.
Bamanga suggested the preparation of an action plan for private sector involvement in the implementation of the New Partnership for Africa's development (NEPAD), to publicise the philosophy of the programme and strategies among private sector organisations.

20 december 2001 18:37:00




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