ECOWAS Ministers of Finance have validated draft integration instruments meant to enhance a common customs framework for the region.
The ministers deliberated on the relevant issues in their 3rd Meeting which ended in Abuja.
The issues included the status of implementation of the recommendations of the 2nd meeting of Finance Ministers, and the Report of the 1st meeting of Directors General of Customs of ECOWAS.
Also is the draft ECOWAS Customs Code, draft directive on exemptions from the Value Added Tax (VAT), draft directive on excise duties on tobacco products, and draft directive on the institutional framework for the Fiscal Transition Programme.
Others are Interconnectivity of customs IT systems and transit computerization (ALISA), Reports of the 58th, 59th and 60th meetings of the Technical Committee Trade, Customs and Free Movement of Persons of ECOWAS.
The Finance Ministers’ meeting recommended that the ECOWAS and West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) Commissions improve their information exchanges for better complementarity, synergy and harmonization.
The ministers also recommended that the ECOWAS Commission should provide technical support for strengthening the capacity of the supervisory authorities in relation with other regional institutions, such as Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), to help fight smuggling of tobacco and other products that hinders the application of excise duties on tobacco.
The Finance Ministers validated the principle of setting up a track and trace system for tobacco products but deferred its adoption.
The validation however came with an invitation to the ECOWAS Commission to take another look at the issue of infant Milk and the harmonization of cereals and their seeds.
In his closing remarks, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Marcel de Souza, expressed his appreciation for the work of the ministers who were also commended for having made the time for the meeting.
He noted that his approval for the meeting is a testament to its importance as it came in the period when the Commission’s schedule was busiest.
“Considering the importance of the meeting for integration, for the health of the region and so on, it was approved. I appreciate all of the delegates for the good work put in” President de Souza added.