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The COMESA Joint Committee of Ministers of Finance and Central Bank Governors is converted into the Convergence Council

The Second Meeting of Ministers of Finance and Central Bank Governors  was held from 29-30 in Lilongwe Malawi. This was preceded by the  19th Meeting of the COMESA Committee of Governors of Central Banks which was held from 27-28 November 2013 also in Lilongwe, Malawi. The Joint Meeting decided  the conversion of the Joint Committee into the Convergence Council.

Convergence Council is one of the institutional frameworks that was approved by the COMESA Authority in Malawi in 2011 for the implementation of the COMESA Multilateral Fiscal Surveillance Framework. Currently it comprises Ministries of Finance and Central bank Governors. The Convergence Council will report to the Council of Ministers and the Authority of Heads of State and Governments.  Each year during the last quarter, the Convergence Council will issue the annual broad guidelines of economic policy which will lay down the common objectives   and policy options in terms of inflation, public finance, trade, exchange rate stability etc., that could guide member countries in the formulation of their respective fiscal and other policies in the context of their own convergence programme.

The Joint Committee also agreed that embedding trade in the Multilateral Fiscal Surveillance process is key for enhanced regional integration, since non of the fiscal, exchange rate or trade policies can be set in isolation and they must be an integral part of a comprehensive and consistent overall macroeconomic framework. They have therefore, recommended that the Convergence Council should also include Ministers of Trade and Industry.

The Secretary General, COMESA, Mr Sindiso Ngwenya in  his opening remarks underscored the importance of the creation of the Convergence Council. He pointed out that inclusive growth and economic transformation through resource based industrialization  in the COMESA region requires a dynamic Public Finance Management (PFM) system, which is one of the basic components for the implementation of the Multilateral Fiscal Surveillance Framework (MFSF). He said that dynamic PFM is necessary to raise adequate public finance, allocate public resources efficiently; and deliver pubic services effectively. He also emphasized the importance of how to consolidate and revitalize financial sectors to support resource-based industrialization.

The Right Honourable Kumbo Kachali, Vice President of the Republic of Malawi also made a statement.  In his statement  he stressed that one of the most important factors for enhanced intra-regional trade is monetary integration through financial and monetary co-operation. This, he said  is done by improving efficiency of financial services, development of regional bond or debt markets, lowering transaction costs, and increased transparency in prices of goods and services. He also emphasized the importance of implementing the COMESA Multilateral Fiscal Surveillance Framework, since it is the basis for viability and sustainability of the COMESA Monetary integration programme in particular and COMESA integration programme in general.

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