Uche Usim, Abuja
The need to protect the sanctity of the capital market was reinforced on Thursday by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, who described it as very crucial to the growth and development of the country.
Delivering her keynote address at the Investing and Capital Market conference held in Abuja, Thursday, the Minister said it was the desire of the government to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty and provide them fundamental services including education, healthcare, water supply and sanitation; which the capital is central in achieving.
“Our capital market is crucial to actualizing this future, and to achieving the sustained, inclusive and equitable socio-economic growth that this Government aims to achieve” she said.
The Minister said the capital market allows for the mobilization of long-term savings for investment as well as efficient pricing of financial instruments.
Further, she said, it has provided a necessary platform through which the business sector and Government have been able to source for capital to expand their operations and provide public goods and services for the citizens.
“Therefore, we recognize the importance of maintaining a competitive, resilient and innovative capital market through, in part, the development of appropriate policies, and a strong regulatory and enabling environment, and continued implementation of the ten-year Capital Market Master Plan (2015 to 2025), aimed at positioning the Nigerian capital market for accelerated development of the national economy.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria, particularly the Federal Ministry of Finance reiterates its commitment towards building lasting, endurable, and increasingly more innovative capital market. I therefore, look forward to today’s deliberations and to your continued support in achieving inclusive and sustainable economic growth and prosperity” she added.
In her remarks, Acting Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Ms. Mary Uduk said lack of good corporate governance has created a lot of issues in the corporate world, adding that such issues are some of the reasons why people are avoiding the capital market.
Uduk said the capital market community has resolved that the issues that led to the 2008/2009 crisis are not allowed to continue.
She said, “That is why we have different Corporate Governance codes in place to ensure good corporate governance. SEC set the pace in 2003 with a code and renewed it in 2011. When we saw there were still gaps, we reviewed it in 2014 and came up with a scorecard.
“In pursuance of our goals of ensuring that the market we regulate is sound, we went ahead to do a lot of trainings with International Finance Corporation, IFC.
“The scorecard is a direct compliance with the code. Even though at the moment we are still doing a pilot, there is now a lot of compliance in terms of submissions. From January 2020, we will go to these companies to ascertain the veracity of their submissions
The Acting DG said the SEC codes are mandatory because they are now in its Rules and Regulations adding that it is now compulsory for companies to adhere to and there are provisions to punish violators.
“All hands need to be on deck to ensure we succeed on this one. Even operators know the disadvantage of not complying. When the market is down, they do not earn much. So they have decided to ensure that the right thing is done.
“We are hoping that since this is the only market we have, we all have to do the right thing in the interest of everyone” she added.