By NBF News
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Minister of Finance, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, yesterday said  that about N31 billion has been approved for the execution of nine power projects across the country,  some of which have been completed. Speaking at the 27th meeting of the convergence Council of Ministers and Governors of Central Banks of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), in Abuja, the minister, who was represented by the minister of state finance, Hajia Yabawa Lawan Wabi, also said that to strengthen the country's democratic dispensation, government has ratified the African Charter on the principle of the rule in Nigeria. To this end, activities leading to free and fair national election in April 2011 are progressing satisfactorily.

On the delayed introduction of 'eco' as a single currency in the sub-region, he said that the role played by  money is the result of the interplay between authorities' action and the behaviours of market participants.

'Money cannot develop without a market in which supply and demand conditions can freely be expressed. Without an actively integrated real sectors and financial markets the 'eco' will not attain the status and financial efficacy of the WAMZ single currency we envisage,' he said.

According to him, implementing, to the fullest, all existing Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocols on trade liberalisation and putting in place bilateral and multilateral agreements that facilitate free and seamless movement of people and goods within the sub-region is perhaps the strongest foundation upon which to anchor a viable eco.

The minister also noted that Nigeria has intensified efforts at reducing its fiscal deficit in compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

However, President Goodluck Jonathan, regretted the internal crises that have impeded  development in the sub-region, saying that peace was essential for the success of the monetary union.

He said: 'In the past years, internal crises have regrettably forced us to spend more time and resources on conflict resolution rather than economic development. Let me reiterate that peace and good governance is an  essential ingredient to the success of a monetary union. That is why I am glad that the election in Guinea has been completed successfully and the country has returned to full democratic rule. This will not only allow the country realize its full potential but will also create a conducive environment for the country  to contribute to the success of WAMZ.

'I am happy particularly, to note the enlargement of a membership of WAMZ with the admission of Liberia in February 2010. It is gratifying that I personally signed, here, in Abuja and on behalf of the authority of heads of state of WAMZ, the agreement welcoming Liberia into WAMZ as a full member. I understand that Liberia has started reaping some of the benefits of full membership of our zone with the extension of payment system project being implemented in the Gambia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The authority of the Heads of State following the recommendations of convergence council of ministers and governors of central bank of member states also reach other decisions on  key components of WAMZ components. Information at my disposal regarding the level of preparations of these key components of WAMZ project indicates steady progress.'

Jonathan who spoke through the minister of finance, Mr Olusegun Aganga, noted that the decision of the movement of macroeconomic convergence, though low,  has, nevertheless, been encouraging, adding that with the emergence of cross-border banking activities in the zone and the need to safeguard financial sector stability, the central banks steps towards achieving a  sound financial stability is commendable.

He said: 'I welcome the initiatives of the central banks of member states to sign a memorandum of understanding among themselves to create synergy  in their collective effort aimed at the attainment and sustenance of sound financial stability. Furthermore, Central Bank  of member-states have also constituted a college of supervisors to ensure that supervisory issues are looked at holistically so that the risk of contagion is at all times addressed.'