By Ifeanyi Nwoko
Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Sidie Tunis says payment of outstanding community levies for the development of ECOWAS institutions will be the focus at the Extraordinary Session on March 23, in Freetown, Sierra-Leone.
Tunis disclosed this at an interactive session with newmen on Thursday in Abuja in commemoration of the first anniversary of the fifth legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Community Level Assessment Report by the ECOWAS Commission, Member States owed about 797 million dollars as outstanding community levy in the last 16 years.
To address this, Tunis said that strategies on ensuring outstanding and subsequent payments would be the focus of the first physical Extraordinary Session of the fifth legislature scheduled to hold between March 22 and April 3.
“The Sierra Leone meeting will be dealing with our strategic plans: What we really intend to do as a Parliament, strategic plans from 2020 to 2024, that is, through the lifespan of the fifth legislature.
“We would also have a plan and seminar that will be dedicated to Community Levy, how countries can help the ECOWAS generally to raise funds.
“Because there are certain countries that put in a lot of efforts, there are those who are not doing so well.
“That is one reason why at that particular Seminar in Freetown, we will have the Commissioner of Finance in the ECOWAS Commission and other players who are directly connected with community levy.
“We will also have a resource person from Gambia who is one of those, who actually started the whole idea of community levy in ECOWAS.
“So, all of those experts will be in Freetown on March 23rd to explain to Parliamentarians, to ensure that we are able to raise enough money for our programmes in ECOWAS.
“Not just ECOWAS Parliament but ECOWAS institutions generally, we have the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO), they are doing extremely well, they are the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19.
“We have the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, the Commission is there that is providing the overall coordination for all the institutions.
“So, we are expecting that the Sierra Leone meeting, which is the first in-person meeting for ECOWAS Parliament will go a long way to look at all of these issues.
“And, to make recommendations to the ECOWAS Commission that will eventually go to the Council of Ministers and to the Authority of Heads of State” Tunis said.
According to Tunis, the ECOWAS Parliament is expectant that the meeting would be a success because Parliamentarians come from all of the countries in the sub-region, hence are Ambassadors of their countries to Parliament. (NAN)