West African financial and monetary authorities under the banner, West African Monetary Agency or (WAMA) are in Monrovia for the 31st Joint Ordinary Meeting of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, and Operations and Administration of WAMA’s activities.
The conference is aimed at finding workable solutions to the numerous economic challenges facing the embattle economies, bringing together officials of member states, including Ministers of Finance, Governors of Central Banks and Supervisors of the West African Monetary Zone or WAMZ.
Addressing the opening session of the conference on Thursday, 27 July WAMA Director General Momodou B. Saho, stressed the need for member states of ECOWAS to strengthen resolve to maintaining macroeconomic stability and prioritizing economic diversification that will improve business climate to unleash the region’s tremendous potential.
“Our broad policy messages for these meetings”, Mr. Saho emphasizes, “are that countries impacted upon by commodity price declines need to move faster to implement reforms that will stem the decline in revenues and external reserves and reduce exchange rate volatility.”
He calls on other countries in the region that are still experiencing robust growth and low inflation to seize the opportunity to address emerging vulnerabilities related to widening deficit and higher public debt from a position of relative strength.
Indeed, we wholeheartedly agree with the WAMA Director General Saho that economically prudent and expeditious reforms are the surest ways to proceeding in mitigating present day challenges that are confronting most economies in the region.
For instance, Liberia as a member of WAMA, is suffocating from three-digit exchange rate for the very first time ever, with excruciating increase of basic commodity prices, further subjecting ordinary citizens far below the poverty line.
The unpleasant situation is precipitated, along with other exogenous causes, by global shocks from fall in world market prices, including the country’s traditional exports – rubber, iron ore and timber, coupled with the drawdown of the multinational U.N. Peacekeeping Force, UNMIL.
The authorities here have taken series of austerity measures, including issuance of financial instruments aimed at containing further depreciation of the Liberian Dollar against the United States Dollars currently between 114 and 116LRD to US$1.00. But unless the problem is tackled-on at the regional level, not very much can be attained on the ground because of interconnectivity.
This is why we think comprehensive radical forms are the prescriptions for the region’s economic challenges, ranging from unemployment, low production and exports, poor infrastructure and political strife, among others.