Lagos, Sept. 19, 2012 (NAN) The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is not in haste to introduce a single currency to avoid running into trouble, according to its Vice President, Dr Toga Mcintosh. He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Wednesday that the regional body was learning from the mistakes of the European Union on single currency.
Mcintosh spoke on the sidelines of a sensitisation workshop on protocols, conventions and activities of the commission’s integration process, organised in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He said that for a single currency to work well in the region, each country must have solid reserves to back up its currency.
"Currency has roots. You must have the reserves to back up your currency. "Now if the individual country has its own reserves, and that reserve is strong enough to back up your currency when you transfer to national business, then you are in good shape.’’ The ECOWAS vice president said that member states would need to begin to learn from the European Union, to avoid pitfalls. He said that it was good to talk about a single currency but that there was need to spend more time to study the lesson coming out of Europe.
"You don’t have in reserve, country x, to be able to sustain its share of that common currency. Then how do you use that currency to buy from Japan? "You are putting other people at risk, so currency is international tender in exchange for goods and services. "If it a currency amongst ourselves, even that may create difficulty, unless we are producing everything within our sub region.
"So when people talk about those things, that is the first thing; how much money should Gambia have in its reserve to hook on to this currency, how much money should Liberia have and will you be able to keep that? "That is a problem in Europe. So whether Germany or may be one more country, they are carrying the burden and by carrying that burden, they weaken their own positions.’’
He said that the region must learn lesson from EU, and on the basis of that lesson, ``come back and look at our own structure and plan a programme. "This is because we do not want to make the kind of mistake that is now surfacing in the European zone.’’
Mcintosh also stressed the need to put in place certain infrastructure to enable citizens of the sub-region move freely within the member countries. "The region is looking from within to see how we can put on the table those critical infrastructural programmes that will make our people move freely amongst country and better their own lives.
"So that is a critical challenge I see, moving forward. But it appears it’s a challenge that can be dealt with.’’He, however, noted that single currency was necessary ``because we wanted an ECOWAS where economic activities, social activities, production would be vibrant.
"If we can still meet the same objectives, depending on what comes out of the lessons and analysis from Europe. "We also need to give ourselves ample time to do this thing right and I think we will be on the right track. "It means keeping our eyes on the real objective of regional economic integration.’’