By Peter Egwuatu
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has assured of its commitment to encourage upstream oil & gas, and telecommunication companies to list in Nigeria to diversify the sector distribution of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

Director General of the SEC, Ms Arunma Oteh while delivery a speech in London recently said that the Commission would institutionalize the stock market by encouraging collective investment schemes including exchange traded funds, Islamic funds, and other ethical funds, and Real Estate Investments Trusts ( REITs).She further disclosed that alternative investment market would  address funding needs for Small and Medium Scle Enterprises (SMEs).

According to he, “  Building a vibrant fixed income market on the heels of a successful sovereign bond market is paramount as the  President recently granted tax waivers in order to reduce issuance costs for sub-national and corporate, and government bonds by 300 basis points

She noted that pension assets total USD 13 billion and growing at more than 20% per annum.Oteh noted that world class legal framework including Investment and Securities Act promulgated in 2007 and specified Investment and Securities Court- the Investment and Securities Tribunal, recently established Asset Management Company to takeover toxic assets are things meant to enhance the market.

Other measures to enhance market performance, she mentioned include : Best practice rules and regulations including promulgation of news rules and regulation to ensure a world class capital market and restoring market integrity.She disclosed that the recent introduction of margin guidelines to curtail excessive risk taking, adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) for all banks and publicly quoted companies for 2012 financial statements, ongoing revision of corporate governance code are measures that would further strengthen the Nigerian capital market.

On measures to addressing governance challenges at the NSE, Oteh said upgrading Abuja Securities and Commodities Exchange, preparing Exchanges for demutualization, partnering with international agencies to build capacity amongst capital market operators, strengthening all capital market trade groups, opportunities to leap frog in terms of technology platforms for exchanges would go a long way in tackling the challenges of governance.

It would be recalled recently , Oteh, took the bull by the horn by stepping into the NSE crisis which led to the removal of erstwhile Director General of the Exchange, Prof. Ndi Okereke Onyiuke and some of its council members.

The crisis reached a climax when the President of the NSE, Alhaji Aliko Dangote accused its management of financial impropriety.

The Commission after removing Okereke from office appointed external auditors to probe the allegation and come up with a report on the state of the NSE financials for the year 2009. The SEC also appointed an interim administrator in person of Mr. Emmanuel Ikazoboh to oversee the affairs of the Exchange pending when a substantive Director General of the NSE will emerge.

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