The Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa (FECCIWA) has strongly warned the Government of Sierra Leone against the hasty signatory of the ECOWAS-EU Economic Partnership Agreements as it has the tendency of serious economic loss.
This was stressed on Wednesday by the Secretary General of the Fellowship, Tolbert Jallah, during the opening session of the two-day Church Leaders Consultation on the Economic Partnership Agreements at the CCSL Hall in Freetown.
According to Rev. Jallah, religious leaders are concerned about the Agreements because their lack fairness, equity and transparency have the potential to cause major challenges to the country’s economy as they, and they are interested in ensuring that people enjoy the abundant life bestowed to them by God, for which they will stand against any sector or arrangement that undermines such.
The negotiation of the Economic Partnership Agreements which started 2000 among others aim at liberalizing trade between European Union countries and the Economic Community of West Africa States. Upon agreement, Africa countries will have 100% access in the European market while the later will have 75% access in the Africa market which includes free quota and tariff.
However, the Fellowship of the Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa frowned on the process and secrecy in which the agreed text is being shielded from the general public which according to the Secretary General is tantamount to impoverishment and dependency syndromes as in the former centuries.
He argued that the 100% Africa access in the European market is unattainable because of the restrictions and the unprecedented regulations involve in immigration processes of the European countries and that most African countries do not have manufacturing industries which can enable them to export products.
Assessing the economic loss, it was revealed that Africa is at the risk of losing Three Hundred Billion United States Dollars annually and Sierra Leone in particular is at the risk of losing Twenty-two Million United States Dollars because of the tariff free negotiation as the business will be in the hands of those that have the ability to export.
Rev. Jallah advised political leaders to open up negotiations in a fair and transparent manner by engaging national level experts, religious leaders, civil society organizations and the general public.
In his theoretical reflection on Wealth and Economy for the People, the Vice President II of the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone, Rev. Arnold Temple described the campaign to be timely as wealth should be judiciously used.
Rev. Temple stated that poverty is not God’s wish for his people but the life of the majority of Africans is characterized by poverty which is perpetuated human conditioning. He referenced the disgraceful status of most people as stated in the Bible was caused by selfishness and greed as they did adhere to God’s economic principle which means to take only what is needed.
He urged religious leaders to speak against the act of injustice and selfishness in society.
The ECOWAS Desk Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Corporation Henry Nyandemoh acknowledge that Sierra Leone delegation has attended a negotiation meeting in relation to the Economic partnership Agreements, but the government has not stated its position.
By Keifa M. Jaward
Thursday May 08, 2014