The Council of Ministers of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) held its ordinary meeting on Thursday, March 25, 2016, at the headquarters of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), in Dakar, Republic of Senegal, under the chairmanship of its sitting President, Mr Amadou Ba, Minister of the Economy, Finance and Planning of the Republic of Senegal.
The proceedings were also attended by Mr Cheikhe Hadjibou Soumaré, President of the WAEMU Commission, Mr Tiémoko Meyliet Koné, Governor of the BCEAO, Mr Christian Adovelande, President of the West African Development Bank (WADB) and Mr Jeremias António da Cruz Pereira, President of the Regional Council for Public Savings and Financial Markets (CREPMF).
As pertains to the BCEAO
The Council of Ministers analysed the economic and monetary situation. In this framework, the Ministers stressed the challenges that the member states would have to meet to sustainably support growth and ensure macroeconomic stability in the Union. Focusing on the issue of security in the wake of the resurgence of terrorist attacks, they expressed their solidarity and compassion towards the affected populations and urged all of the countries of the Union to reinforce their solidarity and pool their efforts to eradicate this evil that threatens the potential for growth in the region.
Reviewing the latest economic performances achieved by the Union, the Council pointed out that the economy remained strong in the final quarter of 2015. Year over year, growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) stood at 6.7%, following 6.4% the previous quarter, mainly due to good harvests in the 2015/2016 crop season. Economic growth in the Union over FY 2015 is estimated at 6.6%, a level identical to the one registered in 2014. Projections for FY 2016 predict growth of 7.2% in the Union.
The Ministers noted that the budget deficit in the Union deepened in 2015, reaching 3.6% of the GDP, compared to 3.3% in 2014. In this regard, they urged the member states to increase their efforts to optimize the efficiency of their spending and, above all, increase their tax revenue in order to achieve a fiscal pressure rate of 20% by 2019. They also stressed the need to preserve the sustainability of the public debts of the member countries.
The members of the Council noted that the inflation rate remained low, reflecting a lack of tension. The year-over-year inflation rate stood at 1.3% at the end of December 2015, compared to 1.1% at the end of September 2015. On average over FY 2015, inflation was 1.0%.
The Council also approved the proposals put forward by the BCEAO on the WAEMU financial market reform. With this in mind, it instructed the Organs and Institutions concerned to expeditiously perform the tasks which are incumbent upon them.
The members of the Council also stated their agreement for the West African Development Bank (WADB) to open accounts in foreign currency on the books of the BCEAO, as per its request, in the framework of the implementation of its currency risk hedging mechanism.
Finally, the Board urged those states that had not already done so to accelerate the procedure of domestication of the uniform law on the regulation of Credit Information Bureaus (BICs) in WAMU.
As pertains to the Office of the Secretary General of the WAMU Banking Commission:
In the framework of the application of articles 2 and 4 of the Annex to the Convention of 6 April 2007 governing the Banking Commission of WAEMU, the Council of Ministers took decisions regarding new appointments and reappointments of members of the community banking supervision organ, based on proposals by the Governor of the BCEAO.
The Council also reviewed the conclusions of the proceedings of the one hundred and third (103rd) session of the Banking Commission, which took place on March 14, 2016, in Abidjan.
As pertains to the West African Development Bank
The Council approved the annual report for FY 2015. Despite being handicapped by the scarcity of concessional resources, the sub-regional bank granted financing worth a total of 296 billion CFA francs, 90% of which were focused on investment projects, particularly in integrative infrastructure.
Taking advantage of its credibility, the WADB was also able to rally local banks to support a number of transactions. Financing supported by local banks totalled 442.5 billion CFA francs.
During the fiscal year, the bank mobilized resources both on the regional financial market (CFA F 72 billion) and from foreign partners (CFA F 113.5 billion).
The Council also approved the accounts of the WADB for the financial year ending on December 31, 2015. The key figures of the institution showed an upward trend. It recorded positive net earnings of CFA F 8.839 billion, up 5.24% compared to 2014. The profits will be used to increase the equity capital of the institution. Net banking income reached CFA F 32.614, up 10%. The balance sheet total stood at CFA F 1,783.64 billion, compared to CFA F 1,658.47 billion at the close of the previous financial year, for a gain of 7.6%. The institution’s financial structure remained balanced, with actual equity capital at CFA F 618.73 billion, representing 36.6% of the balance sheet total exclusive of unpaid share capital. As for the debt ratio (outstanding loans/equity capital), it stood at 155.8%, compared to a statutory standard of 300%.
Finally, the Ministers approved the revision of the Statutes of the West African Development Bank, to allow the institution to present interim financial statements and establish procedures to implement the interest subsidy mechanism.
As pertains to the CREPMF
The Council of Ministers extended the mandates of the members of the CREPMF by three months, to June 30, 2016.
It also deferred the appointment of state representatives on the Boards of Directors of the regional stock exchange (BRVM) and the Central Depository/Settlement Bank (DC/BR) to June 30, 2016.
The Council further adopted a financial penalty mechanism applicable to the regional financial market of the West African Monetary Union.
Finally, the members of the Council took cognizance of the report on the activities of the regional financial market as at December 31, 2015.
Regarding the WAEMU Commission
The Council of Ministers was informed about the level of execution of the WAEMU Commission’s technical assistance program for Guinea-Bissau.
The Commission and Guinea-Bissau will confer with a view to finalizing an execution protocol for said program, which will take account of the additional needs expressed by Guinea-Bissau.
The Council has taken due note of the administrative measures undertaken by Guinea-Bissau in the framework of the free circulation of people and goods and has approved said steps.
The Council was also informed of the transformation, as of March 2, 2016, of the Road Maintenance Fund of Burkina Faso, which has become a second generation road fund in compliance with WAEMU regulations.
The Ministers expressed their deep and heartfelt thanks to His Excellency Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal, to the Government and to the people of Senegal, for the warm and brotherly welcome they received during their stay in Dakar.
Done in Dakar on March 24, 2016
The President of the Council of Ministers