Plans For Single Currency In West Africa Run Aground

West Africa

VENTURES AFRICA – Plans to have a single currency for the West African Monetary Zone by 2015 have run aground, it emerged on Tuesday.

This became evident when it emerged that none of the six member countries of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) including Nigeria, had satisfied the required macroeconomic convergence criteria last year.

The drive towards the adoption of a single currency regime in the West African sub-region was originally fixed for 2003. However, this had been postponed three times largely because of “mixed” progress among member countries in attaining the set criteria.

The Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama, speaking in Abuja at the opening of the 34th Technical Committee meeting of the WAMZ, said performance of member nations on the convergence scale had worsened remarkably from a score of 79.2 percent in June 2011 to 62.5 percent in 2012.

He added that there was urgent need for more collective efforts towards the actualisation of the new (2015) date for the monetary union.

Member states would have to double their efforts in strengthening fiscal performance through enhanced domestic revenue mobilisation and rationalising public expenditure, Ngama said.

He called for reforms and efficiency in tax administration as well as broadening the tax base–and ensuring effectiveness and productivity in government expenditure in member countries towards the attainment of the single currency objective.

The Federal Government would, however, continue to give its full political support to ensure the success of the WAMZ programmes.

Acting Director General, West African Monetary Institute (WAMI), John Kitcher, said inflation and fiscal deficit criteria remained the most challenging parameters for member states to comply with.

Inflation remained subdued at an average rate of 12.6 percent in June 2012 against 11.6 percent recorded same period in 2011.