A five-day workshop on common financial governance principles in the ECOWAS Monetary zone has opened in Accra, with a call on participants to use the knowledge acquired to ensure effective financial control to spur the development of the region.
The conference is part of ongoing efforts to develop a common financial governance principles framework for member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Speaking at the opening of the regional training workshop on Principles of effective financial governance in ECOWAS Monetary Zone, Professor Femi Adjayi, the Director of Democratic Studies at the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, (NILDS) of the Nigerian National Assembly in Abuja, bemoaned the ‘abysmal’ performance of African countries on the 2017 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG).
“This situation calls for concern to elevate the sub-region’s good financial governance status,” he said, adding that transparent and accountable governance was pivotal to the development of the continent.
He said if the African countries achieved a transparent and accountable financial governance, it would help address the challenges of development that they faced, but noted that this would require mobilising and distributing revenue equitably, assuring fiscal sustainability and credibility, matching resource allocation to development priorities and cost effectiveness, among others.
In line with this, the workshop, organised by the NILDS through its capacity building structure, the NILS Capacity Building Project II, and the West African Institute of Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM) with sponsorship from the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), was aimed at bringing out the basic conceptual framework of financial governance for the public sector.
This would cover tax administration, budget preparation, execution, control and audit to ensure international best practice in public financial management.
“It is hoped that the challenges of realizing good financial governance in ECOWAS Monetary Zone would be identified in this forum and credible political efforts committed towards achieving good governance reforms…to reduce corruption and financial recklessness”.
Mr Dickson Antwi, Regional Manager of ACBF, said while there had been sustained economic growth, it had not improved the state of governance, which was evident in the results of the 2017 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), which measures and monitors governance performance in Africa countries.
According to him, the overall performance of African countries on the Index was 50.8 out of 100. At the same time, the World Governance Indicator data on governance effectiveness in Africa had also showed a decline over the last 15 years and remained low compared to other regions in the same period.
He said West African countries performed worst on the indicator of Diversion of public funds, compared to their counterparts in the Southern African Development Community (SADEC) and the Maghreb region.
“When it comes to that indicator, we are not doing well at all. What that tells us is that we need to work extra hard to prevent people from diverting public funds into private use,” he said.
He stated that recommendations from the workshop will be put into a communique that will be presented for subsequent discussion by policy makers at another workshop to be held.
Participants at the workshop included staff or clerks of finance and accounts committees of national Parliaments of ECOWAS member states, senior staff of Ministries of Finance and Economic Planning, Trade and Exchange Units of Central Banks and ECOWAS institutions and agencies, among others.