By Lizzy Okoji
The Administration and Finance Committee (AFC) of the ECOWAS Commission has presented the 2023 Community draft budget of more than 427,979,594 million Units of Account before the Parliament for consideration.
Chair of the AFC, Cristina Pedreira, made the Presentation before Members of the ECOWAS Parliament during the Budget Session of the Parliament’s 2nd 2022 Ordinary Session in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the committee came up with the draft budget and recommendations following its 32nd Meeting of the AFC which was held from Nov. 14 to Nov. 21.
The 2023 Community of Consolidation and Reforms will be focused on four strategic objectives: Enhanced Peace and Security, Deeper Regional Integration, Good Governance, Inclusive and Sustained Development.
Pedreira revealed that expenditure of the 2023 draft will increase by 8.7 per cent above the 2022 approved budget of UA 393,612,400, noting that 70 per cent of the budget is expected to be funded by community levy.
“Compared to the 2022 approved budget, the 2023 revenue forecast will increase by 8.7 per cent, representing UA 427,979,594, as against UA 393,612,400 in 2022.
“This is due to the increase of 50 per cent of community levy, 10 per cent of year-end Bank Balance, 5 per cent of arrears of community levy proceeds, and 15 per cent of external funding.
“Expenditure is also projected to increase by 8.7 per cent to a UA 427,979,594, compared to UA 393,612,400 in 2022.
This development is mainly a result of the increase of the institution’s expenditure (+15.5 per cent),” Pedeira said.
The AFC however stressed the need for Member States to comply with the payment of their community levy to facilitate the execution of the budget.
The committee also came up with recommendations for the effective execution of programmes and policies of ECOWAS intuitions for the benefit of ECOWAS citizens.
“Member states should adhere strictly to the protocol of committee levy and compliance with the deadline.
“Five per cent of Community levy shall be applied in the National Bureau whereby countries are late by more than two months with regards to funds that have been collected.
“The ECOWAS Commission in view of putting the amount of arrears in terms of the payment to be made in regards to counties that are owning community levy after the presentation and deliberation.
“There must be a commitment for accountability by countries that are defaulting. The ECOWAS Parliament should support this effort by encouraging Member States to comply with the provisions of the Community levy.
“With regards to the community, the budget for presentation to the Council of Ministers, AFC is asking for support for the fund for its activities in community institutions.
“Community institutions and special agencies should endeavour to increase their budget absorption and project implementation from 2023.
“Community Institutions and specialized agencies should accelerate their recruitment of relevant staff to priority areas and enhance the capacity of current Staff as necessitated by the Staff Skill Audit.
“AFC further recommended that the replacement of Staff should be based on the Skilled Audit before Proceeding on a phased approach for recruitment into other vacant positions,” Peidera said.
Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Sidie Tunis said that the procedure for considering the community budget by the Parliament is governed by Article 11 of the Supplementary Act.
Tunis said that after the consideration of the community by AFC and presented to the Parliament, Commission’s President shall transmit the report and Parliament shall issue its opinion and propose amendments if necessary.
“This Session as we all know is the budget session, we see a budget presentation by the AFC of the Community budget.
“Colleagues will be expected to debate the presentation, and other referrals that will be submitted and presented to the Committees, and we urge the members to do everything possible to participate in the Committee meetings.
“By Monday we are expecting that these reports from the various committees will be submitted to the plenary at the Opening Session on Monday 28,” Tunis said. (NAN)