By Ifeanyi Nwoko
ECOWAS Parliament Speaker Sidie Tunis said the payment of community exceptional levies for the development of ECOWAS institutions will be the focus of the March 23 extraordinary session in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Tunis revealed this during an interactive session with the newcomers Thursday in Abuja in commemoration of the first anniversary of the fifth legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament.
The Nigerian News Agency (NAN) reports that the ECOWAS Commission’s community-level assessment report, member states owed approximately $ 797 million in unpaid community levies over the past 16 years.
To address this issue, Tunis said strategies to secure overdue payments and subsequent payments will be at the center of the physical first extraordinary session of the fifth legislature scheduled between March 22 and April 3.
“The Sierra Leone meeting will focus on our strategic plans: what we really intend to do as a Parliament, the strategic plans from 2020 to 2024, that is, throughout the life of the fifth legislature.
“We would also have a plan and a seminar that will be dedicated to community levy, how countries can help ECOWAS in general raise funds.
“Because there are some countries that are trying a lot, there are some that are not doing so well.
“This is one of the reasons why, during this particular seminar in Freetown, we will have the finance commissioner of the ECOWAS Commission and other actors directly linked to the community levy.
“We will also have a resource person from The Gambia who is among those who actually pioneered the idea of community levy in ECOWAS.
“So all these experts will be in Freetown on March 23 to explain to parliamentarians, to make sure that we are able to raise enough funds for our programs in ECOWAS.
“Not just the ECOWAS Parliament but the ECOWAS institutions in general, we have the West African Health Organization (WAHO), they are doing extremely well, they are on the front line in the fight against COVID-19.
“We have the Court of Justice of the ECOWAS Community, the Commission is there which ensures the overall coordination of all the institutions.
“Thus, we expect that the Sierra Leone meeting, which is the first face-to-face meeting of the ECOWAS Parliament, will go a long way in addressing all of these issues.
“And, make recommendations to the ECOWAS Commission which will eventually go to the Council of Ministers and the Authority of Heads of State,” Tunis said.
According to Tunis, the ECOWAS Parliament hopes that the meeting will be a success because the parliamentarians come from all the countries of the sub-region, therefore are ambassadors of their countries in the Parliament. (NOPE)
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