Barely days after turning over the chairmanship of the West African Bureau of the Association of African Central Bank Governors to the Governor of the Central Bank of Guinea, Executive Governor J. Aloysius Tarlue, Jr. of the Central Bank of Liberia was preferred as Chairman of the Committee of Governors of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), taking over the gavel of authority from Prof. Kelfala M. Kallon, Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone. Executive Governor Tarlue’s ascendancy to the chairmanship of the Committee of Governors of West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) brings to two, the number of regional economic bodies that he currently chairs, including the Committee of Governors of ECOWAS Member States of West African Monetary Agency (WAMA). As Chairman of WAMA, he delivered the keynote address of its 58th Ordinary Meeting held virtually.
In his keynote address, Executive Governor Tarlue updated his colleagues about the adverse economic effects of COVID-19 within the West African Monetary Zone and the policy measures pursued to help reverse the situation. He further disclosed that the region experienced an economic downturn of 1.1% in 2020, in contrast to 3.1% growth recorded in 2019, thereby widening budget deficits and public debts in most member countries of the WAMZ.
West African Single Currency
The adverse economic realities and the unplanned fiscal policy actions necessitated by the COVID-19 Pandemic, Executive Governor Tarlue said, led to the abandonment of the fiscal consolidation policy measures that were been implemented in recent years in many member countries. All of this, Executive Tarlue told his fellow Central Bank governors, have had a toll on the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Program (EMCP), causing the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS to adopt a new macroeconomic convergence and stability pact, together with a new roadmap to guide implementation of the ECOWAS single currency programme. According to Executive Governor Tarlue, the timeline for the roadmap has now been extended from 2021 to 2027, at which time the West African single currency will be launched.
Regional Payment Systems
Executive Governor Tarlue notified his fellow central bank governors that progress had been made on a regional payments system, as directed by the ECOWAS Commission, in conjunction with member central banks and the West African Monetary Authority (WAMA). The regional payment system is aimed at establishing a multilateral mechanism with which national currencies would be used for payments and settlement of intra-community transactions.
A New Central Bank Developmental Role
Executive Governor Tarlue urged his fellow central bank governors to consider a potential new central bank role of financing structural and developmental initiatives, with a view to diversifying revenue sources and minimizing the periodic pressures on monetary policy.
In his acceptance speech as the incoming Chairman of the Committee of Governors of WAMZ, Executive Government Tarlue expressed thanks to the outgoing Chairman, Prof. Kelfala Kallon, Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, for his exemplary leadership over the past year and reassured members on the use of consultation, collaboration and cooperation to sustain the gains that were made under the outgoing chairman.