The 53rd Ordinary Meeting of the Committee of Governors of Central Banks of ECOWAS Member States ended Thursday, February 21, 2019 in Dakar, Senegal with a commitment by Liberia to remain supportive of the policies and programs of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
In a statement, the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Nathaniel R. Patray, III, observed that the people in the ECOWAS region continue to suffer from macroeconomic instability, including depreciation of domestic currencies, high debt ratio and weak GDP growth in a number of the Member countries. Governor Patray said there is a need for harmonization of policies and regulations among West African States to tackle the macroeconomic challenges facing the region before the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Programme (EMCP). “We need a collective response to all of these challenges,” said Governor Patray. He added that the Government of Liberia will do what is best in the interest of Liberia and its people and the collective good of the Community.
The CBL Governor reiterated Liberia’s appreciation of ECOWAS for its role in bringing peace and stability to Liberia and noted that Liberia will continue to participate in ECOWAS programs. He however emphasized that decisions involving the monetary integration within the sub-region must involve all member countries. “ECOWAS is not only involved with monetary arrangements. ECOWAS is also involved with peace and stability,” the CBL Executive Governor noted. Governor Patray also stressed the need for the sub-region to pay attention to the issues of cyber-security risks.
He further spoke of the need for exchange of experiences on critical issues affecting the region and thanked the Central Banks of Nigeria, Sierra Leone and The Gambia for extending an invitation to Liberia to learn from their cyber security programs with the view of improving the cybersecurity program at the CBL. The CBL Governor urged other member countries to share ideas with sister central banks to improve their respective institutions. He said the Central Bank of Liberia is prepared to work with other central banks in the region to share experiences on cyber security. Governor Patray accepted an invitation from the Bank of Ghana to attend an international seminar in Accra, the Republic of Ghana in May 2019, on Corresponding Banking Relationship and Financial Security Issues.
Meanwhile, it has been disclosed that economic activity in the West African sub-region continues to improve, reflecting increasing investment in agriculture, construction and sustained performance in the services sector in most Member States. According to a report of the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Program for the first half of 2018, growth accelerated to 3.1 percent in 2018 from 2.3 percent in 2018 and 2017, supported by increased oil and gas production in Ghana and Nigeria.
With the exception of Guinea Bissau and Sierra Leone, according to the report, growth accelerated in all Member States. “Inflationary pressures generally softened in 2018, but with significant variations between the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) countries,” according to the report, which traced the trend to tight monetary policy exchange rate stability and moderation in food and utility prices.
Regarding depreciations, the report on Exchange Rate Developments of ECOWAS Currencies for end 2018 showed that the depreciation of ECOWAS currencies was mainly due to higher demand pressure on the foreign exchange market, coupled with weak commodity prices.
The Committee of Governors has, meanwhile, adopted the report of the 34th Ordinary Meeting of the Joint Technical Committee of the West African Monetary Agency (WAMA) which, among other things, calls for the implementation of important milestones for the adoption of the ECOWAS Single Currency Programme, including the common monetary policy framework, the choice of exchange rate regime and the common central bank model, by 2020.
Governor Patray is being accompanied at the meeting by the Deputy Governor for Economic Policy, Dr. Mounir Siaplay; the Executive Director of Research, Policy and Planning, Mr. Mussah A. Kamara; the Advisor to the CBL on Multilateral Affairs, Mr. Micheal B. Ogun; and the Sr. Director for Communications, Mr. Cyrus W. Badio.