By Victoria Ojeme
The Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has directed its committee on Finance and Budgetary Control to investigate the powers of the Finance Commissioner over the Parliament and advise the lawmakers accordingly.
Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Moustapha Cisse Lo, gave the directive after a brief consultation with parliamentarians on the need to check alleged highhandedness of the Finance Commissioner over the Parliament. He gave the directive during the presentation of the report of the Ad-hoc Committee on the consolidated Budget of the community for year 2018 at the ongoing Second Ordinary session in Abuja.
The Parliament, however, following the report of the Ad-hoc Committee adopted the proposed budget of 284.9m West African Units of Account (UA) (approximately 122 billion naira) for the community for the year 2018.According to the speaker, the Finance Commissioner had continued to meddle into the activities of the Parliament by determining entourage of the speaker on official trips.
He alleged that the Finance Commissioner had refused to pay his entitlement and that of his communication Officer over there trip to Vienna on the grounds that only the Speaker was invited on the visit.
“If I am invited somewhere and the United Nations at that level, it is up to me to determine who should accompany me to say what on behalf of Parliament. “What right does he have to say that considering that the funds were provided for in the budget?
To this moment, we have not even executed our budget 65%. What is the point of passing a budget if you cannot execute it?
“At the commission, they even go as far as the United States with as much as 20 people and it is approved. “Should we be a Parliament that is at the mercy of the Financial Controller?
No, that is unacceptable and we are going to fight this to the finish at the Council of Ministers and at the Summit”, he said. Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Moustapha Cisse Lo, before proposing the adoption of the report congratulated the committee for doing what he described as a great job.
He stated that this is the first time the Parliament was been presented with an opportunity to scrutinize and have inputs into the budget of the community.He commended the painstaking efforts of the committee, adding that despite the fact that they had to learn in the process of delivering on their mandate, they have done very well.The committee chaired by Hon.
Orlando Pereira Dias of Cape Verde, consisted of 35 members drawn from other standing committees of the Parliament.They had spent four days ( 22-25 November) to take a critical look into the 284,909,801.47 UA draft budget for the community in the year 2018 by the ECOWAS Commission.
However, the committee in its report observed that the community levy constitutes the main source of funding of the community’s budget and that the poor response of most member States to a large extent jeopardized the implementation of activities of the community institutions.
Dias, therefore called on parliamentarians whose States are defaulting in their financial obligations to speak with their respective governments to pay up their arrears.
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