Nigeria is the only country in the region that has met the “primary convergence criteria”.
The Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, on Economic Policies, Sarah Alade, said Nigeria meets all the criteria to adopt the ECOWAS single currency.
Ms. Alade made this known at the 37th Technical Committee meeting of the West African Monetary Zones in Abuja.
She said Nigeria is the only country in the region that has met the “primary convergence criteria” which were set for the member-states in 2013.
There are four primary criteria including the attainment of single-digit inflation rate at the end of each year and fiscal deficit of not more than four per cent of Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
Ms. Alade recalled that the deadline for the West African Monetary Zone, WAMZ, countries to achieve monetary integration was set for January 1, 2015, adding that it was intended to replace the two-track monetary integration slated for January 1, 2020.
“The modified revenue approach under the aegis of ECOWAS was approved by assembly of Heads of State and Government to replace the two-track approach to monetary integration in ECOWAS for January 1, 2020.
“It is imperative for the technical committee to identify the key challenges that need to be addressed in other to achieve the objective of single currency in our sub region.
“This exercise is very important given the state of the macro economic convergence in the WAMZ where Nigeria is the only country that satisfied all four criteria in 2013,” she said.
She, however, said that Liberia and Sierra Leone had satisfied three out of the criteria.
Ms. Alade said that there have been consistent challenge of compliance with the criteria by the member states, and disclosed that discussions at the meeting would focus on WAMZ macro-economic development and convergence report.
She said the meeting would also discuss state of preparedness for monetary integration in the region and review of contribution proficiency to West African Monetary Institute’s ,WAMI, budget.
Others issues for discussion, she added, included proposal for the transformation of WAMI into WAMZ commission, WAMZ payment system development project update and West African capital market integration.
Nelson Magbagbeola, Acting Director of Multilateral Surveillance, ECOWAS Commission, in his contribution, said that the commission was committed to the integration, inclusive growth and development of the region.
He said ECOWAS heads of state endorsed the recommendations of two presidents to review the macroeconomic convergence criteria on the single currency programme.
“Specifically, the Authorities adopted the creation of a fiscal union to complement the monetary union and reduction of macroeconomic convergence criteria from 11 to six.
“The three primary criteria are budget deficit, including grants and commitment basis, average annual inflation of 10 per cent with long term goal of five per cent by 2019 and gross reserve of three months of import,’’ he said.
He said the secondary convergence criteria adopted by the authority are public debt to GDP ratio of 70 per cent and budget deficit of 10 per cent of previous year’s tax revenue.
Mr. Magbagbeola assured that ECOWAS would continue to support all efforts to facilitate the monetary integration process.