The Southern African Development Community (SADC) convened a virtual Committee of Ministers of Finance and Investment and the SADC Peer Review Panel meetings on 15th July, 2021.
The meeting was chaired by the Honourable Dr. Adriano Afonso Maleiane, Minister of Economy and Finance, Republic of Mozambique, and Chairperson of the SADC Committee of Ministers of Finance and Investment, and Co-Chairperson of the SADC Peer Review Panel.
In his opening remarks, Hon. Dr. Maleiane commended SADC Governments for measures and resources committed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its socio-economic impacts. He highlighted that the SADC Region continues its development trajectory, notwithstanding the difficulties faced by most of the economies.
He further said while economic performance for some Member States has improved marginally in the last few years, some of the economic sectors continue to face serious challenges, like constrained growth in the real sector, widening fiscal deficits and constrained revenue raising capacities.
Hon. Dr. Maleiane said the dampened growth has impacted negatively on job creation and the ability of Member States to raise revenue, resulting in deteriorating fiscal positions and rising public debt.
For her part, SADC Executive Secretary, Her Excellency Dr. Steromena Lawrence Tax underscored that the challenges facing the Region, including those posed by the COVID-19 pandemic call for effective national and regional policy measures to keep regional supply chains safe and stable, maintain regional financial stability, spur quick recovery of the regional economy and minimise the economic and social damage.
She indicated that the challenges facing the Region call for the need to speed-up the implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Agenda by, among others, utilising comparative advantages, national and regional potentials, and natural resources to the fullest.
Dr. Tax noted that the research paper by the Bank of Botswana on Global Trade Tensions, titled Opportunities and Risks to the SADC Region, recommended implementing the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap that emphasises development of value chains in three priority areas, namely the agro-processing, pharmaceutical, and mineral sectors, especially mineral beneficiation.
During the meeting the Ministers approved the constitution of a Working Group of Senior Treasury Officials supported by specialists from Member States on the pperationalisation of the SADC Regional Development Fund to, among others, provide leadership and policy guidance in the course of conducting the consultancies on the operationalisation of the SADC Regional Development Fund and the development of financial instruments to support implementation of SADC regional integration projects at regional and Member States levels, including disaster risk financing.
The Ministers noted the report of the Committee of Central Bank Governors including status of implementation of the Committee of Central Bank Governors Strategy for 2017-2020 and endorsed the Committee of Central Bank Governors Strategy for 2020-2023.
They directed the Exchange Control Committee to fast-track development of a framework for detecting, monitoring and addressing the threats of Illicit Trade and Financial Flows in the Region and to finalise development of the Exchange Control Liberalisation Index (ECLI) as a monitoring and evaluation framework and tool for monitoring progress on the liberalisation of the current and capital accounts of the balance of payments in the SADC Region and further urged Member States who are yet to do so, to finalise their consultations with industry on the Balance of Payment Reporting Manual.
The Ministers noted the progress on the modalities for the establishment and operationalisation of the SADC Regional Transmission Infrastructure Financing Facility as a component of the future SADC Regional Development Fund, the RTIFF Enabling Roadmap, and related documents.
The Ministers encouraged Members States who are grey and blacklisted to continue to engage and implement both European Union and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendations in a stride to be removed from the list of countries with strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering/ counter financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) and to continuously engage with EU and FATF during the period of implementation of the recommendations to ensure all concerns are addressed. They further urged Member States that have not signed or ratified the Agreement on Assistance in Tax Matters to do so; and to leverage on the Support to Improving the Business Environment Programme (SIBE) to negotiate or re-negotiate their Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements.