Economic legacy of Queen Elizabeth II: Commonwealth must recalibrate to benefit member states — Dr Ankrah

BY: Charles Benoni Okine
Queen Elizabeth II

THE death of Queen Elizabeth II should be an opportunity for the incoming leadership of the Commonwealth to recalibrate the association to make it more meaningful and impactful for member states, a Development Economist, Dr Sam Ankrah, has proposed.

“She loved the Commonwealth and increased its membership. It is time to make it more meaningful for member states to leverage from all fronts so it can become a true living legacy in honour of her memory”, he said as he shared some thoughts on the future of the Commonwealth after the demise of the Queen last Thursday.

In an interview with the Graphic Business, Dr Ankrah who is also the President of the Africa Investment Group, said the Commonwelath must be able to position itself to prevent what he described as ‘looted funds” from developing countries from being kept in Western banks while the people suffer.

“For member states such as those from the developing countries such as Ghana to benefit, the Commonwealth must also position itself to encourage multinationals to keep a chunk of their profits in the countries they have their investments to help build their economies. This is where the values of the association will be well felt for members and the legacy of the Queen more cherished,” he added.

The Commonwealth

The Commonwealth, formerly known as the British Commonwealth, has origins that date back centuries, but the current version goes back nearly 100 years. The association had been under the jurisdiction of the Queen for most of its existence.

It is a voluntary association of countries around the world that were once part of the British Empire, Ghana included.

The goal of the association is to support member governments, and partner the broader Commonwealth family and others, to improve the well-being of all Commonwealth citizens and to advance their shared interests globally.

Formed in 1926 as part of the Balfour Declaration of 1926 and is one of the oldest political organisations in the world, existing before the United Nations and NATO.

The goal of the declaration was to form a union where all countries once under British rule were treated equally, with all countries pledging allegiance to the British king or queen.

From a handful of members, the Queen managed to increase the number to 56 countries. It has 21 African countries, 13 Caribbean and American countries, 11 Pacific Island countries, eight Asian countries, and three European countries.

Economic value

Many continue to wonder the economic value of the Commonwealth to member states such as Ghana. This is so because there has not been instances where governments have mentioned how they and businesses can leverage the association to improve their lot. There are a number of opportunities that the Commonwealth offers which can be leveraged.

Trade competitiveness - Commonwealth experts help member countries improve their global trade competitiveness. Many Commonwealth countries only have a limited domestic market, so it focuses on developing their export capabilities.

For instance, there are 18 ongoing country projects in: Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Cameroon, Grenada, the Gambia, Jamaica, Kenya, Malawi, Lesotho, Seychelles and Sri Lanka. There are also three regional projects in The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and The East African Community (EAC).

Small states trade finance facility - This Commonwealth-led fund helps small countries import goods at competitive prices. The fund guarantees loans made by loan providers like local banks, to encourage them to loan money to small and medium businesses.

Public Debt Management Programme - The Commonwealth also supports member countries’ efforts to effectively manage their debt portfolios.

The Secretariat’s Debt Management Unit (DMU), through its public debt management programme, supports member countries’ efforts to effectively manage their debt portfolios.

In accordance with the mission of the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Sustainable Development Goals, the programme aims to strengthen the policy framework, institutional and legal arrangements, institutional capacity and management information systems to support prudent and effective debt management in member countries, thereby supporting the overall aim of individual member countries to achieve sustainable debt, reduce long-term debt servicing cost, manage the risk of contingent liabilities as well as risks of debt distress.

Delivery of the programme is through advisory support, capacity building and provision and support of public debt management systems.

Commonwealth Fintech Toolkit - With the emergence of technology-enabled financial services (fintech) and the profound changes to the production and delivery of financial services it has enabled, Commonwealth Central Bank Governors (CCBGs) expressed a desire for improved technical guidance on fintech implementation.

The Commonwealth Fintech Toolkit is a response to that call. The Toolkit aims to build the capabilities of senior leaders and their teams, helping them to understand the building blocks of fintech, identify which policy interventions may make sense in a given context, and how to implement that decision.

Way forward

Dr Ankrah also urged members states such as Ghana to fully leverage the opportunites the Commonwealth presents to benefit its people and the economy.

For 70 years, the Queen laid a solid foundation with her vision clearly laid out and exposed to the many members to leverage.

The Queen is gone and left behind the Commonwealth which she eloquently tranformed but her legacy must live on.