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Experts seeks strict implementation of STM Act

The Secured Transactions in Movable Assets Act, STMA, 2017 was the talking point of a workshop organised by Conference of Western Attorneys-General Africa Alliance Partnership (CWAG AAP) in conjunction with the National Collateral Registry as stakeholders brainstormed on how the act can be used to boost the micro, small and medium scale enterprises, MSMEs in Nigeria.

•From left: Attorney, Punuka Attorneys &Solicitors, Tobenna Nnamani; Assistant Registry, National Collateral Registry, Bisi Toro-Popoola; Attorney, Northeast New Jersey, Legal Services Inc, John Ukegbu and Coordinator, Conference of Western Attoerneys-General-Africa Alliance Partnership (CWAG\APP)- Punuka Attorneys &Solicitors, Mrs. Ebelechukwu Enedah, at the opening ceremony of a one day workshop on the Role of Secured Transactions in Moveable Assets Act in Financing MSME in Nigeria held in Lagos.

Speaking at the workshop, Cross River Attorney-General Joe Abang said STMA’s main objective was to enhance financial inclusion in Nigeria and stimulate responsible lending to MSMEs. He noted that to stimulate the economy, the Act establishes a regime that guarantees access to credit secured by moveable properties.

“In addition to the general objective of providing and developing a framework guaranteeing access to credit secured by moveable assets, the specific objectives of the Act include establishing a National Collateral Registry, stimulating affordable lending to MSMEs, facilitating the perfection and realisation of security interests in moveable assets and enhancing financial inclusion in Nigeria.

“It is hoped that the passage of the Act would facilitate the achievement of the goals of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC set up by the President to progressively make Nigeria an easier place for businesses to start and thrive,” he said.

In her contribution, NCR Assistant Registrar, Mrs Bisi Toro-Popoola, said the law has made it possible for people to get loans using moveable assets such as farm produce, wrappers, household utensils, intellectual property, motorcycle, among others, as collateral.

She, however, said the NCR is faced with lack of funds to implement nationwide awareness campaign strategy. Besides, she said there had been low usage of NCR portal due to financial institutions’ reluctance to appreciate the benefits of moveable asset-based lending.

Despite the challenges, Toro-Popoola said the NCR is gradually building the confidence of banks and other financial institutions in moveable assets financing. According to her, over 600 financial institutions have registered and are leveraging the NCR infrastructure to advance credit to individuals and businesses.

Punuka Attorneys and Solicitors’ Senior Partner, Chief Anthony Idigbe, SAN, said stakeholders, including lawyers, have a role to play in ensuring that market forces determine the grant of loans rather than the current monopolistic practice that is filled with hurdles for small businesses.

Responding to a question on the role of lawyers, he regretted that the report of the Legal Practitioners Reform Committee, which he chaired, was gathering dust due to lack of implementation.

Other speakers at the workshop were a senior staff attorney at the Northeast New Jersey Legal Services, Inc, John Ukegbu, founder, Hilary Nwaukor and Mr Obinna Nwankwo of CBN Principal Legal Services Department.

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