ECOWAS Supports Debt Cancellation, Plans Post-Pandemic Economic Policies

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), on Friday, resolved to support the African Union’s initiative to negotiate with partners for debt cancellation for member-states.

The ECOWAS position is part of measures to ensure economic sustainability and recoveries for member-states through and beyond the Coronavirus pandemic.

The measures were adopted at a teleconference by the summit of Heads of State and Government, convened to deliberate on ways to contain the virus spread and stabilise their economies.

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According to communiqué issues at the end of the summit, the ECOWAS leaders mooted the development of a joint economic response plan that will focus on post-pandemic economic recoveries.

The summit’s resolve in terms of stabilisation and economic recovery are to:

“Develop jointly, a response plan taking into account the fight against the spread of the pandemic and a post-pandemic economic recovery plan.

“Issue long-term treasury bills and bonds to finance critical investment needs to support the private sector and revive economies.

“Provide substantial support to the social sectors (distance learning tools, strengthening of health systems and facilities, easy internet access and for the most disadvantaged segments of society (social safety nets).

“Deploy through the Central Banks, tools, means and significant liquidity to support the financial sector, in particular banks and financial institutions, in providing assistance to the private sector, especially Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs) and microfinance institutions in providing support to the informal sector.

“Mobilise additional resources from the international community to address the economic and social challenges confronting member-states and support the African Union’s initiative to negotiate with partners for cancellation of public debt and restructuring of private debt of African countries.’’

The summit also resolved to implement measures to support the local production of consumer goods, including agricultural products, thereby reducing the import bill for goods.

Support for the programme for the pharmaceutical and health protection equipment manufacturing sector was also on the front burner.

The summit noted that current production capacity could not meet up to 20 per cent of the sub-regional needs.

It called on all member-states to avoid the imposition of import restrictions on other ECOWAS countries, especially as it relates to essential goods such as food and drugs.

“The authority also invites all the relevant partners to accelerate efforts for the production of vaccines and adequate therapy against the virus, as well as support the region in the development of research capacity.

“In addition, authority calls on them to ensure the provision of vaccines at subsidised prices, to the affected countries, including ECOWAS member-states.

“With a view to ensuring high-level coordination of all the regional efforts to contain the pandemic, the summit appoints Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Champion to coordinate the COVID-19 response,” it said.

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