By Peter Egwuatu
Ahead of the expected public hearing on the Electronics Evidence Act bill now before the National Assembly,banks and other financial institutions in the country have been called upon to support the proposed Act.
Director General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Professor Ndi Okereke Onyiuke disclosed early in the week that the proposed electronic evidence Act bill being sponsored jointly by the NSE, and Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Limited has undergone the second reading at the National Assembly and consequently called on banks, other financial institutions and the general public to support the Act when it comes up for public hearing to be held soon.
According to her, â€œ It is necessary to have the Electronics Evidence Act in existence since there is no law backing electronic transactions. If someone pays money into some one account and the person denies it even when the personÂ provide print out from the computer the court in Nigeria will not acknowledge such transactions. So it is better for us to have this bill passed since most of our transactions in modern time are done electronically.â€
She, however explained that the bill has been sent to the House Committee which after deliberation will call for a public hearing and thereafter the third reading will follow before passing it into law.
Onyiuke, who spoke on the recovery of Nigerian stock market called on all Nigerians to buy stocks now that they are selling at below value.
According to her, â€œ The dip in the market was due to investors who were not well informed about operations in the market but only wanted to cash on the boom in the market following the excess fund in circulation post consolidation in the banking industry. So there need to be caution when you are investing in the stock market. It is not Kalokalo (gambling). The market is information driven and every investor has to makeÂ choices based on information provided to him or her.â€
She said that, with the Asset Management Company expected to come on stream next month, this will help absorb the pains caused by toxic waste in the equities market even as she explained that though this will take only 40 per cent of the problem added that it will go a long way in helping return the market to more profitability.
Onyiuke, added that there is need for interest rates to come down so that manufacturers could borrow from the banks to produce effectively.
According to her, â€œ It is only the manufacturers that can spur the growth of the economy as it will assist in generating foreign exchange for the country.â€
In his contribution, Mr. Bismarck Rewane said, the government in its quest to help drive the economy must do away with the policy of dominance in the business circle by encourage private/public partnership to grow the economy.
He said with adequate provision of power, a consumer led economic recovery must be encouraged rather than fiscal policy led recovery by the government.
He said, the present plan by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to have the countryâ€™s reserve being dominated in Chinese currency will further deepen the countryâ€™s woes economically just as he said the Chinese currency is having problems globally.
Rewane who warned that the process of the 2011 election is important than the outcome, noted that the government should strive to strike a balance between political and financial stability.
Mr. Bode Augustus, in his remark said inflation in the country will remain in the region of 12 per cent even as the countryâ€™s AAA rating will be about 100 basis points above. â€œDo not rule out negative realÂ interest rates if the government seeks to finance its deficits at below market rates.
â€œEconomy will grow by about five per cent in 2010, oil and gas, agriculture and telecoms will drive this growth but this will be dampened by the crisis in the banking sector and weaknesses in trading and manufacturing.
Augustus noted that external sector will remain satisfactory but need to narrow fiscal deficit which may lead to some currency depreciation.
According to him, â€œFinances of government will remain weak with fiscal deficit in the region of 5 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Debt to GDP ratio will remain low but interest payment will consume about 20 per cent of government revenues because of high domestic interest rates.â€
Earlier in his welcome address Mr. Jim Ovia, Group Managing Director of the bank said the conference was apt as it is met to seek for both local and international investment in the economy.
He said the economyÂ faced difficulties after the global meltdown but that the economy will soon experience a huge rebound owning to strong fundamentals by companies operating in the country.
In his own remark, Mr. Keith Richards said, â€œ It is turf to manufacture in this country because of lack of infrastructure especially power. Also lending rates by banks are high making a difficult terrain for small manufacturers to operate. Also the dealers who help the big companies to supply some essential materials are not getting credits from the banks he said.
So government should try and tackle the issue of power to make the real sector function adequately when the cost of doing business is reduced. Also banks should reduce lending rates to single digit to encourage manufacturers to borrow and produce at reduced costs for the afford ability of consumers.â€