The Chairman of the Administration and Finance Committee (AFC) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Yakubu A. Dadu, has presented a draft 2024 Consolidated Community Budget of 397,215,748 Units of Account (UA) before ECOWAS Parliamentarians for consideration.

The Parliament began its 2023 second ordinary session last Wednesday and has since then, deliberated on several issues affecting the sub-region.

The budget presented before the Parliament Tuesday, however, represented a decrease of five percent compared to that of 2023, which was 418, 072, 408 units of account.

The 2023 budget saw an increase of about 24, 460, 009 UA, representing six percent when compared to the approved budget of 2022 of the sum of 393, 612, 400 UA.

Consequently, the Parliament referred it to an Ad hoc Committee set up by the plenary in accordance with the Parliament’s rule of procedure.

The committee is chaired by the First Deputy Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Ahmed Idris Wase. It was expected to scrutinize the draft budget and report to the plenary with its opinion and recommendations for adoption.

The 2024 draft budget allocated 23, 215, 934 U.A to ECOWAS Parliament;

16, 417, 047 U.A to the ECOWAS Court of Justice; 62, 689, 949 UA to West African Health Organization and 12, 017, 701 UA to Intergovernmental Group against Money Laundering (GIABA), the Office of the Auditor General, ECOWAS Commission, special programs and interventions in Member States, and Peace and Security.

Presenting the budget estimates at the start of the ongoing Parliament’s Second Ordinary Session in the 2023 Legislative Year also known as the Budget Session, the Chairman, AFC and Head of the ECOWAS National Office in Nigeria, Dadu, stated that the AFC received a macroeconomic analysis of the sub-region, which provided it with the current economic realities.

“The 2024 draft budget is also influenced by factors such as the dwindling resources, especially the decline in the Community Levy proceeds, which accounts for 69.2 per cent of funding, adopting and implementation of various projects and programmes in the ECOWAS institutions and staffing issues in Community institutions”, Dadu stated.

He told lawmakers that lack of staff has hindered the performance of the Community, thereby affecting the output and may impede the integration programme.

He said: “With that, the AFC had no option than to push for the implementation of the Council’s decision in Bissau for ECOWAS institutions to accelerate the recruitment process.”

The President of the Commission, Dr. Omar Alieu Touray, noted that the draft budget takes into account, the strategic orientations given by the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government to rationalize expenditures for a flexible, effective and efficient ECOWAS.

“It is as realistic as possible in view of the plethora of challenges confronting our region and the world at large. The budget prioritizes activities that have impacts on our populations and that can complement the efforts made by our Member States to mitigate the negative effects of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the war in the Middle East, the rise in inflation, the impact of regional insecurity and the sanctions applied on Member States in transition.”