March 25, 2021
By Jariatu S. Jusu
Members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament have demanded that they should be involved in monitoring the implementation of the protocol relating to the Community Levy, which is carried out by the Ministry of Finance of each member state.
During his presentation on the topic: Methods of Involving ECOWAS MPs in monitoring the implementation of the protocols relating to the Community levy,” Gueye Ibrahim from Senegal, said the community levy is collected for the use of ECOWAS and not for the various countries.
He said there are already sanctions but noted that the implementation of those sanctions has been the problem.
He said there are powers that should be exercised by Parliament, which does not only limit them to the Committee on Admin and Finance, but also on the censorship aspect.
He said it would be good for all countries to be monitored rather than focusing on only some member state countries.
He emphasised the need to sensitize citizens on the importance of the Community Levy and that there is also need for custom officers to assist in collecting the proceeds as all payment should be transferred within 30 days.
According to Hon. Clarence Massaquoi from Liberia, as far as he was concerned, the 0.5% charged as Community Levy is only on paper and that it does not make any sense.
He said some member states collect the fee and transfer it to the ECOWAS fund, while some collect it and pay part of it to the fund.
He stated that such defaulting states should be sanctioned and that no international agreement should be signed by those defaulting member states.
He said for Parliament to fully monitor the protocols that guide the collection of those levies, there is need to give more powers to them when going back to their various countries.
He noted that payments were done initially to the ECOWAS bank but some member states wanted to know how the financial account system was being done, adding that since then they have been encountering difficulties to receiving the payment of fees on time.
Hon. Ahi Sampson from Ghana said he has a challenge with the mode of collecting the Community Levy.
He said it is sad for a member state country to collect the fees and keep it, while others collect and only give half of it.
He suggested the need to have a desk at various collection points/accounts in order to avoid the delay in the transfer of the Community Levy.
He also stressed the need for Parliament to support the collection through the Admin and Finance Committee and also help conduct thorough oversight function on how much was collected on each period.
He stated that in order to avoid deficit, there was need to change the collection mode and to establish a direct transfer system from each member state countries.
On his part, Hon. Aime Assine said it was sad to note that countries were defaulters in the transfer of the Community Levy collected. He said something need to be done in making sure that reputable countries that people look up to as example own up to their obligations.
He said the Admin and Finance Committee should step up to get the payment transfer of the Community Levy.
Also,Hon. Nabie Nimaye from Bunkinafaso said one of their functions as MPs is to do oversight, and that they should be able to the Minister of Finance for questioning time before Parliament to explain what has been the reason behind the delay in transfer of the fees.
Commissioner of Finance, ECOWAS Commission, Madam Halima Ahmed, said the issue of sanction for defaulting states should be tread upon carefully as it should not be used as option to punish defaulters.